Greening With Gratitude

Sharing Sustainability


Solar Coops and Such

Posted by madayerf on October 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM

I've come across some innovative cooperative/business models that many of you may be aware of that I wanted to pass along.  

Firstly,  I came across something quite similar to greening with gratitude as a revolving seed fund for solar systems in the states called RE-volv. Targetting community centres, RE-volv reinvests solar lease collections into its seed fund to build more solar.

Secondly, there are a growing number of distributed utilities out there, the idea being that a business can own, say a solar system, and sell you the power for less than what you would pay if you had gotten it from the utility.  There are no upfront costs, but their are risks in that it is on your roof and the company better last long enough to take care of it. These can be run as public corporations (eg. Solarcity), as investment coops (eg. Mosaic), or even as worker coops (eg, Ohio Cooperative Solar).

I see this as particularily hopeful because there are fewer and fewer barriers to entry for consumers and producers to get involved in renewable energy.  In areas where utilities block renewable energy capacity in their system, it creates a market for distributed utilities.  There is an incentive for utilities to offer feed in tariffs and net metering to keep people plugged into their grid, or to compete with other utilities who can set up shop anywhere.  

I also see the democratic process of cooperatives as adding social sustainability to business models, which I learned about from and from the largest co-op in the world Mondragon.

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