As the price of solar has plummeted and leases have become more widespread, many more Americans have been able to go solar. But what about the 75% who can’t?
More options are emerging for solar for the rest of us -- including Mosaic’s new online marketplace, which is making it possible for people to invest in community solar projects and earn solid returns.
This three-part series profiles some other startups that are paving the way to spread solar to all.
Just across the bay from Mosaic in San Francisco, three young entrepreneurs are finding new ways to crowdfund solar projects -- and include the 75%. Not content to wait for someone else to do something, they’re taking matters into their own hands, rolling up their sleeves, and making projects happen.
Empowering the 75% through co-ops
Evan Wynns founded the San Francisco Energy Cooperative in 2011 with the 75% in mind. He began with the question of why we don’t have more green energy in the United States: “It’s frustrating because we have this technology which can take off a lot of the load of consuming fossil fuels, and we have the will -- we see green energy growing in popularity all the time -- and the question is why don’t we have more. We thought about that, and the benefits of green energy, and how can we distribute those benefits to more people.”
In keeping with the philosophy of the Sharing (or Access) Economy, Wynns is seeking to give people who don’t own green energy technology access to the services the technology provides.
The SF Energy Co-op has found a way to make the benefits of green energy available to anyone, through the power of collective investment and organization. As Wynns puts it, “Say it costs $20K to put solar on your roof, but you can’t do that, for whatever reason. So you go to your neighbor and say, ‘I’ll pay to put it on your roof, and then you pay me what I would have been saving, and you’ll still be saving money on your power bill.’ And say instead you go to 100 friends and you all pay $200 to do the same thing. You can do the same good when people pool together small amounts of money.”