The Minneapolis-based Carolyn Foundation recently announced the award of $25,000 in grant resources to support new initiatives by Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF) to pursue community solar projects in partnership with interested manufactured housing cooperative clients.
The project involves three sub projects: First, NCF will help refine a template request for proposals whereby manufactured housing cooperatives will ask community solar garden developers to offer packaged community solar subscriptions to its manufactured housing co-op clients, thereby reducing their electric bills and cutting dramatically the carbon footprint of participating home owners and co-op members. Second, in partnership with Eutectics, LLC, a local consulting firm, NCF will develop a cost-benefit model to identify when and where manufactured housing cooperatives can sponsor or rent land for community solar garden projects. Third, working with CommunityLeader, a portal software developer and Eutectics, LLC, NCF plans to develop a community solar investment portal that permits Minnesota subscribers, investors, and lenders to provide the people and capital that enables community solar projects to be truly cooperatively owned.
As Kevin Walker, Director of Business Development noted, "the Carolyn Foundation's support of this charter initiative helps forge a new path for NCF to advance its mission of 'transforming lives and communities through cooperative enterprise'. Though this initiative is brand-new, it builds on a longstanding history of the cooperative movement's environmental leadership. By linking our members' interest in more cost-effective utilities to Minnesota's leadership in community solar legislation, this initiative promises to meet low- and moderate-income members' needs while helping build a Minnesota sustainable energy platform for years to come." Warren Kramer, Executive Director, says, "We expect that this first investment in NCF's initiative will pave the way for further learning and advancement of NCF's movement into community solar space. We are excited about the ways that this will diversify and strengthen NCF's offerings to our clients and the broader community, providing additional opportunity for the cooperative model to strengthen the development and support of community solar initiatives in our market area."