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Citizens Renewable Energy Fund

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Skotty, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    I'd like to know if anyone would like to discuss the idea of a public organization that uses it's funds specifically for building renewable energy infrastructure.

    There are plenty of organizations that educate, lobby, and promote renewable energy. But how much of the funds they receive actually go towards building renewable energy infrastructure? I would like to see an organization where that is their primary mission. As far as I know, that doesn't currently exist. Maybe some of us could start one.

    Starting such a fund is no small task. It would require enormous commitment and responsibility.

    Kind of the idea I see for how this would work is as follows. Overhead needs to be kept to a minimum, so funds are not wasted. The overwhelming majority of the funds needs to go directly towards building renewable energy infrastructure. Operators of the fund would begin making connections and developing contacts with power companies, renewable energy companies, politicians of any consequence, and renewable energy and environmental organizations (environmental and renewable energy organizations could surely provide some advice and, eventually, support). A panel of parties (some combination of donators, fund operators, and industry experts) would make decisions on what projects to put funds towards. Initially, these could be residential or commercial projects anywhere in the USA (and maybe Canada). Maybe start small, in order to show progress when funds are limited, and grow the projects to larger sizes as the fund grows. Donators would be provided with details and history on all projects over time, so they will always be able to see how their money has been put to use. Donators could potentially be provided with some say on what they want their particular contributions put towards.

    Right now, I just want to get the discussion started. Sort of a feasibility study. I would appreciate any input. But I am serous about it. I would be willing to donate a lot of time and money to this.

    Thanks.
     
    • Like x 1
  2. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    #2 Skotty, Apr 27, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
    Step one could be putting together a kickstarter team of dedicated, competent folks to build a mission statement, then send it to a variety of organizations asking for feedback. Basically just trying to gather more information on level of interest, making new organizational contacts, find out what they might already being doing themselves that we didn't already know about, etc. Take that feedback, whatever we get, and move on from there.

    If all the right pieces click into place, then start breaking down some initial job responsibilities, and open the first account, throw some seed money in it, and start some PR. That's when it starts getting real, so need to make sure commitment is real and team is ready before that point. Feedback won't necessarily lead to this outcome. It's possible there won't be enough interest or we won't have the right resources. It's possible we may initiate or learn of a similar effort by one of the other organizations, and we could just shift focus to that. But it's also possible we could start a whole new organization for the advancement of renewable energy.

    The concept behind this whole thing is that most organizations seem to spend their time trying to get other people to start making a renewable energy future a reality. This organizations says, great, but why don't we just go do it ourselves? I think there could be a lot of appeal for something like that.
     
  3. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    Let me also clarify why I think there is a need. A lot of people want to invest in renewable energy in some way, but what are the traditional options?

    There's the big picture public option -- basically trying to get government and society as a whole to build renewable energy. How well is this working? Based on the outcome of the last election, I would say not very well. It's happening, but only when it provides a significant cost advantage. And most of us are left feeling helpless and useless on advancing the goals.

    Then there's the individual option -- this typically takes the form of installing your own rooftop solar. This is nice, but generally only works for people in very good financial condition. Most places, installing rooftop solar of any consequence means footing $30,000 or more up front just for the purpose of advancing renewable energy. How many people can do that? Not very many.

    What's missing, and what I think can be effective, is a middle ground between the two traditional options. Something where a subset of the public that actually cares about things like renewable energy, sustainability, and environmental protection can pool their resources and actually make real, tangible advances on growing renewable energy without each individual having to contribute 10's of thousands of dollars up front. Everyone can contribute as much as they find reasonable to help build renewable energy solutions. I would again reiterate that I think it is vital for such an approach that contributors be provided with detailed information about where funds are being used so they can see what they are actually getting for their money.
     
  4. AndreN

    AndreN Member

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    A couple companies have done or are doing something similar to this.

    Solar Mosaic previously crowdfunded solar installations. Small investors would contribute to have a solar project built for a school for example. Then the profits from the electricity generated would pay back that cost over 7-10 years, plus pay interest. They've since pivoted away from that (they ran into headaches with getting accreditation done on all the investors I think) and now give money to help individuals get solar installed on their homes.

    Another company, Wunder Capital, is now doing something similar to what Solar Mosaic was doing. I haven't invested with them yet, but since SolarCity paid my solar bonds back early, I'm considering it.
     
  5. ggies07

    ggies07 Supporting Member

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    How about this company? I posted this in the climate change thread:

    TerraPass: Buy Carbon Offsets to Reduce Carbon Footprint

     
  6. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    Thanks everyone for the responses so far. This is all useful information. Regardless of what else I do, I'm seriously considering an investment in Wunder Capital now. Just need to do a little more research first to ensure I am happy with their intent and mission.
     
  7. Mkorpal

    Mkorpal Member

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    I'm always interested in these types of projects, I really am. But I'm also someone who is sceptical of where money goes and unfortunately, someone who realistically views his fellow humans as mostly thieves and con-men rather than sincere people doing good. So, I never give money to these funds. Even "semi-"reputable utilities like Xcel, I can, for an additional fee, buy electricity made from the wind. But really, it's just the grid, it comes from all the above, and I don't know if that additional funds I provide actually create more renewable projects, or if they just pad the bonus of an executive somewhere.

    Perhaps I'm just a cynic, but unless I am involved in a small scale community project (or just simply put the damn panels up myself) so I know the money spent did good, I'm not going to give my money to anyone.
     
  8. SageBrush

    SageBrush Active Member

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    I was an early investor in MosaicSolar, but as mentioned above, the company was forced to return my investments due to regulatory concerns.

    Skotty, I like your idea a *lot* and will keep an eye out for how things progress. Good luck!
     
  9. tomas

    tomas Only partially psycho

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    Plz pm me let's discuss.
     
  10. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    I understand this concern and share it. Not necessarily that people are mostly thieves and con-men, but that the money might not really be used in the way you expected or intended it to be. Even funds set up in good faith can end up using money in ways that are not really productive. That is why I was promoting strong transparency, careful use of funds, and where possible, using funds to support community projects.

    There's actually a lot of discussion to be had about what size projects to support. From residential rooftop solar projects, to community projects, to larger scale utility projects. In each case, there are a lot of aspects to consider: cost, how to track it over time, how much of the financial benefit of generated electricity to try to reclaim for return to the fund, how much red tape is involved and what it will cost, whether or not to partner with other entities, etc.
     
  11. RichardC

    RichardC Cdn Sig & Solar Supporter

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    In Ontario (Canada) we have a number of renewable energy cooperatives, which provide the public with opportunities to invest in renewable energy.

    See: The Power of Community | TREC | Renewable Energy & Social Finance
    OREC
    Renewable Energy Co-operatives Flourish in Ontario « Solar Canada 2016 Conference & Exposition

    Also one can purchase renewable power, at a premium, from an audited supplier. See: Bullfrog Power – Canada’s leading green energy provider
     
  12. AWDtsla

    AWDtsla Active Member

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    Any reviews or investor discussion on Wunder Capital? This is the only thing I've found except for promotions and new articles. I'm skeptical how they are paying such high interest rates. Is it that difficult to get a business loans near prime rates for solar systems?
     

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