Using the model pioneered at the Monadnock Food Co-op that retains energy, investment, tax and labor dollars in the community, the NH Community Supported Solar (CSS) initiative accomplishes what is financially difficult to do otherwise.
Our next project, Chesterfield Community Supported Solar is a citizen-directed initiative which aims to supply most of the electrical needs of the Town’s municipal buildings. The business model relies on a locally owned LLC that develops and owns the project and sells electricity to a host organization via a Power Purchase Agreement. The LLC sells the solar array to the host within ten years. To date, we have set-up an LLC, obtained a solar design, budgetary estimate, developed the financial plan, secured buy-in from selectmen for the Town owned site, and are looking for investors. It will be part of the July Hannah Grimes Center Pitchfork event. This is a win for the Town which will receive income from the property during the LLC phase (there is none now) and then get free energy from the sun for decades after the buyout. The investors win by getting a return on a local investment while strengthening our local economy.
The NH CSS initiative is working to put solar systems on underserved properties in the Monadnock region. There are three types of participants in a 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 an investor owner though an investor should become part of the project team. MSN provides extensive 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.
MSN was selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy 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, MSN will receive a $10,000 award to refine this business model which improves access to solar for municipalities, nonprofits and low & moderate income households. Over the next 18 months, MSN in collaboration with a number of local organizations plans to develop more Community Supported Solar projects harvesting free fuel from the sun for those who often lack access.
Locally owned community supported solar expands access to clean solar electricity; increases our energy independence and resilience; reduces our carbon footprint while boosting the financial strength of our communities. If you know of a potential host and would like to support it getting a CSS system please let us know.