One of the things that has always interested me about solar—and other clean tech—is the potential for them to become contagious. While few of us have the power, or the inclination, to build a coal plant just because the neighbors down the road have one, the distributed nature of solar means that one installation can lead to many more as neighbors get inspired by what other neighbors are doing.
There's still one impediment to this though. And that's money. Despite rapid declines in the cost of solar power, upfront costs can be prohibitive for many—even if there are long-term savings to be had.
Enter Resonant Energy. Based in Boston, this social enterprise is working on building coalitions of community partners to plan, finance and install solar projects. One of its flagship efforts—a successful Interfaith Community Solar Campaign—has already brought solar to Second Church in Dorchester, Bethel A.M.E., and the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Martin. Because upfront costs are covered by the project, churches start saving from day one.
Now, that project is inspiring Codman Square Goes Solar, a neighborhood-wide effort which will see residents sign up to host solar on their rooftops at no cost to them. The effort has caught the attention of the mayor, winning the Buildings and Energy category of the city's Greenovate Awards, and is now aiming to install solar on 25 private homes in the surrounding neighborhood, three small commercial businesses, and three more houses of worship too.
It's exciting stuff. Much like Re-Volv's community solar seed fund, or solar barn raisings and voluntary gas taxes, I suspect we'll see many more community-based solar efforts like this as solar costs continue to fall.