There are now several options for homeowners and businesses that want to go solar — purchasing tax credits/rebates, solar leasing, power purchase agreements (PPAs), PACE financing, and more. However, nonprofits don’t have these same options. Due to the federal tax credit being centered around having tax liability (which nonprofits don’t have), it’s not as economical for them to go solar. Well, a company called Collective Sun is aiming to help get solar on these neglected roofs.

CollectiveSun is working exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them get solar power. The company gets individuals (such as you or me) to invest in solar projects. We get a great return on investment (5%), while the nonprofits get solar power and tremendously reduced energy costs.

In an article on Solar Power World, Lee Barken, CCO at CollectiveSun, summarizes the way this system works: “The solution to this problem is a well-established financial mechanism known as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). A PPA is a third party solar ownership structure that provides solar as a service to an underlying host. Selling electrons as a service allows the third party owner to monetize tax benefits, and then pass the savings through to the host in the form of low-cost power.

“CollectiveSun™ believes that promoting sustainability and financial responsibility enhances the important and compassionate service work performed by nonprofits in our communities,” the company notes on its website.

CollectiveSun’s first project, for TERI, was successfully funded on December 11, 2013. TERI aims to improve the quality of life for children and adults with special needs. In December, CollectiveSun sent me a note about the success, writing: “Utilizing investments (not donations) from supporters, nonprofit TERI, Inc. will now be able to enjoy low-cost solar power at the first of several residential facilities for adults with developmental disabilities.

TERI has already gone back to CollectiveSun to try to raise funds for a second solar panel installation. That’s live right now.

It’s really hard to find such “multi-win” solutions as this. A nonprofit (church, community organization, school, etc.) gets financial help. The whole world benefits from a cut in global warming pollution and other pollution. And you get a good return on your investment. Suweeet!

Author: Zachary Shahan

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