GOOD

How Communities Can Invest in Solar Power

Two companies are figuring out new ways to finance solar power—they're taking cues from microfinance and peer-to-peer lending.


For many years, solar customers paid for their panels in the same way they might pay for a TV: upfront or in installments. But as the solar industry has grown, new opportunities for financing solar projects have emerging. Some draw lessons and inspiration from microfinance and peer-to-peer lending, making small-scale solar available to families and community organizations, like schools and nonprofits, that could not afford the purchase on their own.

Years ago, Dan Rosen tried to get solar panels installed on his high school and couldn’t find the financing. Now, Solar Mosaic, the Oakland-based company he cofounded, allows individual investors to fund just that sort of solar project. Investors can bankroll solar systems in increments of $100, represented as “tiles.” One of the company’s first big projects will power the Asian Resource Center, an Oakland community group. The project has 982 tiles, all of them funded.


The opportunity, as Rosen puts it, is to “decentralize finance and energy”—to maximize the solar energy out there by obtaining funding from many sources and installing clean energy in many places. Investors might not be able to afford a whole solar system, but they can contribute to one.

Simpa Networks, which is selling solar panels on a pay-as-you-go system, is also drawing lessons from microfinance to help “make good customers.” Instead of loaning customers money to buy a solar system like a bank would, the company loans solar panels to their customers until they’re paid off. The company has also considered microfinance techniques like group loans or community incentives to keep their customers loyal.

Right now, Solar Mosaic is only offering investors the eventual return of their money and a sliver of satisfaction at keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. But in the longer term, both of these companies want solar assets to be an investment vehicle that delivers financial returns for those who buy in. Solar Mosaic will still have small investors and more of them. “But as our platform grows, we will attract also big investors — companies, endowments, and private equity,” Rosen says. Simpa Networks is thinking about creating a revolving fund in which investors commit funds for a five year term. Since its customers generally pay off their panels within 12 to 36 months, the same initial investment could be used to fund multiple solar purchases.

Both Solar Mosaic and Simpa Networks have socially conscious goals in mind: They intend to give access to solar power to communities that might not otherwise have the option. But more traditional companies are also considering the potential of solar assets as investments. SunRun, a large solar leasing company, has considered bundling its solar investments into “solar-backed securities.”

“[Solar] is an emerging and proven asset class that generates strong, safe, and secure returns for investors, saves organizations and people money, and cuts carbon out of the atmosphere,” says Rosen. “What could be better?”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user mjmonty.

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News