Green Power Buyers Funds Solar Mini-Grants

To all the cheers that may have been received from the Federal government for passage of tax credits for the purchase of renewable energy systems, nonprofits and other tax-exempt entities are left out of the loop. Thanks to a new PV Reinvestment Fund, nonprofits and others may apply for grants of up to $3,000 to help offset the initial cost of a photovoltaic (PV) system.

The PV Reinvestment Fund has been created by a collaboration of clean electricity buyers and sellers. Together, Interface Fabrics Group (IFG), Maine Interfaith Power and Light, Inc. (MeIPL), and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) have launched the fund with contributions totaling $20,000, derived entirely from sales of clean energy products. The Maine State Energy Program (MSEP), a division of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, provided funds for project staff and Maine Energy Investment Corporation (MEIC) is managing the Fund. The program targets Maine nonprofits, which can use Maine solar rebates but not the available federal tax credits. “We know that clean electricity helps clean up Maine’s air,” said Erika Morgan, program organizer of the Maine Energy Investment Corporation (MEIC). “Now, by plowing some of their clean electricity sales into new solar systems, these organizations are helping more Mainers make the clean energy switch. They want to show more people how beneficial and available these new, clean technologies are.” The Fund will provide small installation grants for solar electric systems on Maine nonprofits organizations and small businesses. Applicants may apply for grants of up to $3,000, at the rate of $1 per watt of new solar capacity and may combine these grants with applicable State and federal solar incentives. Interface Fabrics started the ball rolling in 2003, with a major purchase of BEF “Green Tags.” A small amount of revenue from this sale was set aside to encourage more clean energy production in Maine. “While Interface Fabrics has long been on a mission to reduce its own environmental impact, the company also wants to create a clear path for others to follow,” said Paul Bennotti, director of strategic marketing for Interface Fabrics. Interface and BEF jointly made a substantial contribution to get the Fund started. Maine’s most active green power retailer has contributed as well. Harry Brown, Executive Director of Maine Interfaith Power and Light, Inc., said that for every sale of clean electricity they have made since 2003, they set aside a portion of those revenues to help put solar power on Maine roofs. Bonneville Environmental Foundation was one of the country’s first retail marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), which it calls Green Tags. The foundation launched its Green Tag products in 2000, and has since become one of the most widely supported national green power options. “We have a particular affinity for our partners in Maine,” said Tom Starrs, BEF’s vice president for marketing and sales. “Interface Fabrics liked our emphasis on supporting local projects, and both MEIC and MeIPL have been very innovative and collaborative in creating the PV Reinvestment Fund. We look forward to getting more new, renewable power generation on the ground in Maine with this program.”
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