Solar In Your Community Challenge
The U.S. Department of Energy accepted Monadnock Sustainability Network (MSN) into its SunShot Initiative’s Solar in Your Community Challenge, a $5 million prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access. As an accepted participant of this national solar competition, we will receive a $10,000 award to improve access to solar for municipalities, nonprofits and low and moderate income households in the Monadnock region.
Over the next 18 months, MSN will work with a number of local organizations to develop Community Supported Solar (CSS) projects based on the model pioneered at the Monadnock Food Co-op (Co-op). This approach retains tax, investment, energy and labor dollars in the community while providing access to solar for those who often lack access.
Our goal includes developing at least 230 kW of locally owned solar projects that provide municipalities, nonprofits and low & moderate income households in the Monadnock region access to solar electricity.
MSN’s approach relies on a locally owned LLC that develops and owns the project and sells electricity to the host via a Power Purchase Agreement. The LLC expects to sell the PV system to the Co-op within ten years. Based on this we have published the NH Community Supported Solar (NH CSS) Guide for others to use.
In Progress Projects
- Chesterfield Community Supported Solar
We are currently working with the Town of Chesterfield on a municipal project in the 100 kW range for municipal use. Chesterfield Community Solar has strong champions, an acceptable town-owned host site, the LLC is formed, utility interconnect application filed and initial investors are being identified. A crowdfunding campaign is planned for this fall to raise awareness, support and some funds to facilitate the project.
Preliminary Scoping Projects
Also, we are pursuing a group net metered project possibly on a brownfield in Winchester to serve LMI households. We evaluated a prospective town-owned brownfield site and held several discussions with the selectmen.
- Keene Housing
Discussions began with Keene Housing to explore potential projects.
- Monadnock Food Co-op
The Co-op hosted the first locally owned community supported solar project in the Monadnock region. The 43.5 kW photovoltaic (PV) project covers the available roof area of the Co-op. PV systems use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. The two year initiative was collaboration between Antioch University New England, a dedicated steering committee of local citizens and the Co-op.
Cypress Community Solar LLC was formed to own the project and sell clean, locally harvested electricity to the Co-op. The company is owned by a group of local investors, who expect to sell the PV system to the Co-op within ten years. The company and the Co-op have entered into a Power Purchase Agreement under which the Co-op will purchase all of the electricity produced by the project.
What about your organization?
This initiative is ready to put solar systems on underserved properties in the Monadnock region.
There are three types of CSS project that we’re looking for:
- The host is the owner of the property on which the PV system is located, which may be a public (such as a municipality) or private entity.
- The Champions make each CSS project happen. The project needs a team who want to see the host get a CSS system. They need an entrepreneurial spirit since they will be setting up a small business to own and operate the PV system with the intent to sell the system to the host. A champion doesn’t have to be investor owner though an investor should become part of the project team. MSN provides guidance and support to keep a team on track for a successful project.
- The investors are local folks who meet the criteria of being accredited investors with passive income who want to put their money to work locally. They will form an LLC to own the project, sell electricity to the host and eventually the PV system.
Locally owned community supported solar expands access to clean solar electricity. Find out how we can increase our energy independence and resilience; reduce our carbon footprint while boosting the financial strength of our communities. Please contact us to learn more.
More About Community Supported Solar
Most community solar projects are owned and controlled by developers or utilities. As this is locally developed, funded, owned and controlled, it is a community supported solar project and hopefully the first of many. MSN undertook this community supported solar initiative as part of its mission to make the region more sustainable. The goal is to develop a community supported solar model that can be used by others to pursue a locally owned, clean, renewable energy system on their school, CSA, church or other site in their community.
Locally owned community supported solar expands access to clean solar electricity. It also increases our energy independence and resilience and reduces our carbon footprint while boosting the financial strength of our communities.