Solar energy, the fastest growing U.S. energy source, now employs more people in the U.S. than the steel industry and is starting a transformation of our country’s energy landscape in such a profound way that some are calling it a solar revolution. The growth of solar is driven largely by falling prices for solar panels and new and innovative financing options. The federal government’s support of solar, while small compared to the energy sectors with lots of lobbying money – such as oil and natural gas – has also been a key component propelling more and more businesses and households to invest in solar energy. However, the landscape for the nonprofit organizations that serve our communities is very different when going solar.
Two of the major factors that allow for-profit business and individuals to go solar are not there for nonprofits. Most nonprofits can neither find a lender that is willing to finance a solar project for them nor are they able to use the 30% tax-credit offered by the United States federal government as a de facto rebate for going solar. Most banks are not yet comfortable in valuing solar as an asset with collateral the way they would a car or a home when deciding whether or not to lend money. Because of this, and also because nonprofits’ income comes mostly from unpredictable grants and donations, banks rarely if ever lend to charities to help them finance a solar project. This, compounded with the fact that tax credits are only a useful tool to help organizations buy solar panels if they have a profit and owe tax, means that most nonprofit organizations who want to go solar, are not able to do so.
Its because of these roadblocks and the crucial role that nonprofits play in improving our communities that Everybody Solar was created in 2011. Everybody Solar is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing solar energy to nonprofits through crowdfunded donations. Our donors and partners believe that the world is a better place with more solar power, not only for the environmental reasons, but also because the solar energy savings help receiving nonprofit organizations further benefit the community.
In July, Everybody Solar completed our inaugural solar project – a 21.5 kW system on the roof of San Francisco, Bay Area nonprofit Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP). It took over $30,000 to make this project a reality but the savings and the benefit to the low-income families RTP serves outweighs the cost many times over. More than 100 contributing donors, and our We-Care supporters, who contributed to this cause by using the We-Care system when making online purchases, became a part of our solar community and helped fund the solar array which will save RTP over $8,000 annually.
With the successful completion of the RTP project, we are now partnering with the Sierra Club, Grid Alternatives, and the alt-rock group Trapdoor Social to bring solar to Los Angeles based nonprofit, Homeboy Industries. Together we’ll help amplify Homeboy Industries’ efforts to increase opportunities for at-risk youth in Los Angeles, Our goal is to raise $20,000 for this project, and allow Homeboy Industries to direct funds previously needed for their utility bill towards providing job-training, education, and mental health services.
We believe that the gift of solar energy can make the world a better and more sustainable place and hope you will join us by supporting us through We-Care.com at everybodysolar.we-care.com/getstarted.