skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Community Crowd-Funded Solar Finance

Abstract

The award supported the demonstration and development of the Village Power Platform, which enables community organizations to more readily develop, finance and operate solar installations on local community organizations. The platform enables partial or complete local ownership of the solar installation. The award specifically supported key features including financial modeling tools, community communications tools, crowdfunding mechanisms, a mobile app, and other critical features.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Village Power Finance, Palo Alto, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Village Power Finance, Palo Alto, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1280375
Report Number(s):
EE0006700
6508235064
DOE Contract Number:
EE0006700
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; solar, crowdfunding, solar finance, community solar, solar for non-profits

Citation Formats

Jagerson, Gordon "Ty". Community Crowd-Funded Solar Finance. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1280375.
Jagerson, Gordon "Ty". Community Crowd-Funded Solar Finance. United States. doi:10.2172/1280375.
Jagerson, Gordon "Ty". 2016. "Community Crowd-Funded Solar Finance". United States. doi:10.2172/1280375. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1280375.
@article{osti_1280375,
title = {Community Crowd-Funded Solar Finance},
author = {Jagerson, Gordon "Ty"},
abstractNote = {The award supported the demonstration and development of the Village Power Platform, which enables community organizations to more readily develop, finance and operate solar installations on local community organizations. The platform enables partial or complete local ownership of the solar installation. The award specifically supported key features including financial modeling tools, community communications tools, crowdfunding mechanisms, a mobile app, and other critical features.},
doi = {10.2172/1280375},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 7
}

Technical Report:

Save / Share:
  • In the United States, the 'community wind' sector - loosely defined here as consisting of relatively small utility-scale wind power projects that sell power on the wholesale market and that are developed and owned primarily by local investors - has historically served as a 'test bed' or 'proving grounds' for up-and-coming wind turbine manufacturers that are trying to break into the U.S. wind power market. For example, community wind projects - and primarily those located in the state of Minnesota - have deployed the first U.S. installations of wind turbines from Suzlon (in 2003), DeWind (2008), Americas Wind Energy (2008)more » and later Emergya Wind Technologies (2010), Goldwind (2009), AAER/Pioneer (2009), Nordic Windpower (2010), Unison (2010), and Alstom (2011). Thus far, one of these turbine manufacturers - Suzlon - has subsequently achieved some success in the broader U.S. wind market as well. Just as it has provided a proving grounds for new turbines, so too has the community wind sector served as a laboratory for experimentation with innovative new financing structures. For example, a variation of one of the most common financing arrangements in the U.S. wind market today - the special allocation partnership flip structure (see Figure 1 in Section 2.1) - was first developed by community wind projects in Minnesota more than a decade ago (and is therefore sometimes referred to as the 'Minnesota flip' model) before being adopted by the broader wind market. More recently, a handful of community wind projects built over the past year have been financed via new and creative structures that push the envelope of wind project finance in the U.S. - in many cases, moving beyond the now-standard partnership flip structures involving strategic tax equity investors. These include: (1) a 4.5 MW project in Maine that combines low-cost government debt with local tax equity, (2) a 25.3 MW project in Minnesota using a sale/leaseback structure, (3) a 10.5 MW project in South Dakota financed by an intrastate offering of both debt and equity, (4) a 6 MW project in Washington state that taps into New Markets Tax Credits using an 'inverted' or 'pass-through' lease structure, and (5) a 9 MW project in Oregon that combines a variety of state and federal incentives and loans with unconventional equity from high-net-worth individuals. In most cases, these are first-of-their-kind structures that could serve as useful examples for other projects - both community and commercial wind alike. This report describes each of these innovative new financing structures in some detail, using a case-study approach. The purpose is twofold: (1) to disseminate useful information on these new financial structures, most of which are widely replicable; and (2) to highlight the recent policy changes - many of them temporary unless extended - that have facilitated this innovation. Although the community wind market is currently only a small sub-sector of the U.S. wind market - as defined here, less than 2% of the overall market at the end of 2009 (Wiser and Bolinger 2010) - its small size belies its relevance to the broader market. As such, the information provided in this report has relevance beyond its direct application to the community wind sector. The next two sections of this report briefly summarize how most community wind projects in the U.S. have been financed historically (i.e., prior to this latest wave of innovation) and describe the recent federal policy changes that have enabled a new wave of financial innovation to occur, respectively. Section 4 contains brief case studies of how each of the five projects mentioned above were financed, noting the financial significance of each. Finally, Section 5 concludes by distilling a number of general observations or pertinent lessons learned from the experiences of these five projects.« less
  • Notification has been received that gas will be very limited at the Minneapolis Campus Heating Plant after 1978. Therefore in order to extend the coal firing capability (with oil as standby fuel) at this plant while maintaining stack emission levels in compliance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's requirements, the installation of bag filters on the boilers indicated is required. Further, in order to eliminate the need for utilizing oil, a ''critical'' fuel, as the standby fuel at the Minneapolis Campus Heating Plant, it will be necessary to acquire and convert the Southeast generating plant. The funding that would bemore » followed for the University of Minnesota Grid-ICES are identified. After the University's review of its draft Stage 1 report, DOE requested additional resolution of Stage 1 issues. In particular the University was to resolve the following: a firm financial plan with an opinion from a competent authority on financing; and consideration of using the by-product electricity internally with the excess electricity sold to Northern States Power Company to make the project economically viable. This volume presents the University's resolution to these issues. (MCW)« less
  • The development of a grid-connected Integrated Community Energy System (ICES) is described. This system will supply electric power to the Northern States Power Co. in Minnesota and steam for the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, two Minneapolis hospitals, and the Dept. of Health building. The fossil-fuel power plant would be located on the University of Minnesota campus. The costs, financing, and legal agreements involved in this project are presented and discussed. (LCL)
  • Project A: Solar Energy Applications for Dwellings. This dealt with the technical possibilities and economic limits of hot water supply systems and of heat pump assisted space heating. Project B: 1MW(e) Solar Power Plant of the EEC. Eurelios, the experimental 1MW(e) solar power plant in Sicily is described in outline. Project C: Photovoltaic Power Generation. Work on photovoltaic power generation with solar cells incorporating layers of crystalline silicon produced seven reports dealing with scientific and technical aspects, and three reports dealing with economic aspects. Project E: Energy from Biomass. This was concerned with the production of energy by photobiological meansmore » and with its economic aspects. Straw and several tree varieties were studied, i.e. their cultivation, harvesting, product utilization, and energy balance.« less