Power in numbers
RE-volv hopes to put solar on community centers that have a reach, in order to educate as many people as possible in the area about solar. In addition to non-profits, Karelas is looking at co-ops that own their own space and serve as community centers, and at condo complexes. For the most part, RE-volv is working with a niche market that’s neither residential nor commercial. These organizations may have a hard time finding a solar lease partner, and RE-volv can provide the solution for them.
Because many nonprofits and community-serving organizations don't own their building, Karelas is exploring the possibility of a lease agreement with landlords, where the landlord and tenant would have a separate agreement to cover paying the bills. He realizes that to work, this has to be made easy for both landlords and tenants.
The typical model for their projects is that a community center leases the system from RE-volv, who owns it and maintains it. The community center pays for the lease with a small escalator, and saves money from year 1. And what’s more, at the end of the lease term, RE-volv hands over the system to them, at no cost.
Planting a solar seed in the community
RE-volv is not content with just making projects happen. They also want to use those projects to help reverse misconceptions about solar. Karelas notes, “I tell people how great solar is, and how there are solar leases and PPAs that allow people to go solar and save money, and people say, ‘Wait a minute, if this is the case why isn’t everybody doing it?’”
Demonstration projects in communities can help show that solar is affordable and provide a way to educate community members. Events during fundraising and at installations will also help involve the community and get the message across.
This kind of outreach and education will help make it easier to replicate the RE-volv model. While there are other startups working on similar initiatives, Karelas is confident that RE-volv will succeed and doesn’t see these organizations as being in competition. Instead, he shares information with them in service of his larger mission: to show that solar works and to pave the way to spread solar everywhere.
This article was first published on Mosaic's blog.