In December of last year I wrote about RE-volv’s Indiegogo campaign to finance their first community-based solar energy installation. Fast-forward to March of this year, and RE-volv announced that they had finally signed their first solar lease agreement with the non-profit Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California.
- RE-volv will invest $30,000 into a community-based solar energy installation for a community centre such as schools and non-profits
- Using the savings brought about by all of a sudden running a solar energy system, the community centre will pay RE-volv back over time
- The money returning to RE-volv will allow them to fund (in this case) three more solar energy installations
“This is an exciting development for solar energy. This is the start of a people-funded revolving solar energy fund that is self-perpetuating and stands to serve countless communities with renewable energy,” said Andreas Karelas, Executive Director of RE-volv. “We are delighted to be working with the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center that has served its community for over 50 years.”
The Shawl-Anderson Dance Center will be RE-volv’s first solar energy project, installed by way of non-profit SunWork Renewable Energy Projects. The Dance Center will receive nearly 100% coverage of its electricity usage thanks to the 10kW solar energy system, and own the installation at the end of the lease. Over the 20-year lease, however, they will pay RE-volv out of the savings brought about by their new solar installation.
“We’ve been looking at the possibility of solar for years now,” explains Frank Shawl, co-founder and Executive Director of the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. “It never seemed affordable or doable. Over 50 years ago we had the honour to lead our dance community with the opening of our building. Now, because of RE-volv, we have the opportunity to lead the non-profit community in reducing our collective carbon footprint. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
The revolving nature of what RE-volv is doing is unlike anything being done by other solar leasing companies. Community-serving organisations do not need an upfront payment, because RE-volv covers the installation by way of charitable donations or, as I reported last December, crowdfunding campaigns. The return investments allow RE-volv to install more and more solar systems for more and more community-serving organisations.
A quick wander through the comments sections of our recent articles on solar leasing will inevitably find a certain commenter repeatedly exercising their right to free-speech, denouncing the idea of solar leasing. One imagines they could find little wrong with RE-volv’s initiative, but there are points to made in preparedness for their expected disagreement.
Solar leasing may appear to simply be redistributing a payment from a utility to a solar leasing agent. No doubt, in years to come, many energy utilities will be the primary source for solar leasing operations, hoping to ensure they stay in business.
However, the real reason that solar leasing is such a vital part of the renewables industry at the moment is that it allows those who may not have the upfront cash to install their own system access to a solar system nonetheless. In many ways solar leasing bears uncanny similarities to the idea of renting-to-own a laptop or fridge, offered by many appliance retailers. While in the long run the cost may exceed that of simply installing your own system upfront, for many millions of people throughout the western world, that option is simply not available to them.