Three More Crowdfunding Examples to Support Community Solar

Last month the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a call for support to help it get solar energy programs on top of, and into, select schools nationwide. Thanks to an 11th-hour push, they achieved their goal, surpassing $54,000 in total, thanks to nearly 300 supporters who donated between $1 and $15,000. (If any of you out there, our readers, helped pitched in, well done.) And from a pool of recommendations for 79 school districts nationwide, NRDC says it’s already moving ahead with its first pilot program in North Carolina in early 2014.

But this is just one example of how solar energy and schools are a great combination — and how the rise of crowdfunding makes putting them together a lot easier. Think of it as NRDC’s Jay Orfield put it: like a “bake sale on the Internet.” And what brings a community together more than a bake-sale fundraiser?

With that in mind, we present a few more community solar crowdfunding efforts that have crossed our desks in just the past few days. We encourage you to lend your support, vocally or financially, to get solar energy into the hands, hearts and minds of communities and their leaders.

The Oliver P. Lent Elementary School, Portland, Oregon: This week Portland’s Mayor Charlie Hales and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability unveiled the Solar Forward Fund, a crowdsourcing campaign to support installation of solar PV systems on public sites citywide. The fund is seeded by $20,000 from a quintet of corporate and municipal donors: Portfolio 21 Investments, Portland Development Commission SolarWorld, Umpqua Bank, and Wells Fargo. When the fund reaches $50,000 the first system will get going, on the Oliver P. Lent Elementary School in Portland’s Lents neighborhood. The effort was spurred by $100,000 in grant funds from the Oregon Community Foundation, which also paid for a 10-kW system on Portland Parks & Recreation’s Southwest Community Center.

Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative: The Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative, a joint program between Solar States and Clean Currents, aims to bring solar power and renewable energy education to Philadelphia schools with no up-front costs. The package includes solar panels, wind power, and courses for students — the goal is 20 school solar rooftops totaling 1.5 MW (and valued at roughly $2.5 million) in the Philadelphia area, with students helping with design, development, and installations which would start in mid-2014. The six-week $40,000 Indiegogo campaign would largely be put toward a salary and supplies for a new director position to partner with the schools, develop curriculum and teach at the Youth Build Charter School.

Kehilla Community Synagogue, Oakland, California: Kehilla wants to build a 26-kW rooftop solar array, and is asking for help via nonprofit organization RE-volv and the revolving Solar Seed Fund. For every dollar donated to its $65,000 Indiegogo campaign, Kehilla says it will save $2 over the life of its solar energy system — and another $3 will be invested in other community solar energy projects. The Indiegogo campaign runs through mid-January.

Lead image: Community sun, via Shutterstock

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Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, renewable energy and industrial lasers since 2003. His work has earned both internal awards and an Azbee Award from the American Society of Business Press Editors. Jim has 17 years of experience in producing websites and e-Newsletters in various technology markets.

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