You may have seen some of the crowdsource funding sites such as Kickstarter launch great ideas for many people. These sites are geared to encourage visitors to “invest” in an idea or project in return for some of the success from the project. These returns are generally left up to the person asking for money and usually have a scale of different levels of what you can get gauged by how much you put in.
As Solar Mosaic plans to raise money for installation of solar panels on a military base through crowdfunding efforts, it leaves some with the idea of doing the same for communities. What’s to stop a rural community from buying its own solar array? That depends on how much money the community can come up with. What are some aspects that could accompany a crowdsourced project of this magnitude?
1. Cooperation – A deal of some kind would almost certainly have to be developed with local power companies. As it would be unlikely for a community to fund 100-percent of its power needs from pure solar energy, the power company would still be relied upon to balance out the low production periods. Since the power company could stand to lose a great deal of money, stipulations would almost certainly be guaranteed.
2. Reduced Bills – Since less power would be tapped from the grid based on the efforts of the power company, energy bills of the community should plummet – depending on the capacity that is obtained from the crowdfunding effort. Of course, this would also entail additional intervention by the power company as there would need to be a method to monitor how much power is being used on the grid between the different methods of generation.
3. Cash Commitment Arguments – At some point, someone may bring up how it may seem unfair that someone who funded $5 gets the benefits from someone who funded $1,000. This could create a great deal of animosity. However, there may be ways around such problems if the power company is included in the plan. Discounts on power bills could be offered to customers based on the dollar amount that was vested. For every $10 funded from an individual, he or she would get a certain dollar amount deducted from their bill each month. The plan could go so far as to give a percentage discount based on the percentage a person contributed based on the whole cost. This is somewhat elaborate, but ultimately more fair to those who contributed great amounts of money.
4. Visualized Progress – When a power company adds a 2-percent surcharge in order to build a solar array, the community doesn’t see the progress for some time. Are these surcharges going to remain even after the array is built? It all boils down to trust. With a community operated project to build the array, everyone can see the progress at any time. The money can be accounted for as the development continues. No extra surcharges, no fees and no unanswered questions as to where the money is actually going.
Once communities and neighbors realize that they have more control in their areas than they do, many things could change. While neighborhood watch programs increase safety in various areas, crowdfunding for solar arrays could be just as valuable. The power will literally be in the palms of the community’s hands.
Stephanie has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for houstonnanny.com.