Oakland startup looks to create innovative solar financing solution

Solar energy is quickly becoming one of the hottest buzzwords in construction and real estate, as residents and businesses alike look to lower their energy outputs and use more environmentally friendly solutions. One of the up-and-coming leaders in this department is Mosaic, a solar financing startup based out of Oakland, according to The Oakland Tribune. With a unique program that enables people to invest their own money in solar energy projects large and small, Mosaic is further evidence of an overall green shift in the city and among its citizenry. Environmentally conscious families looking to live in a similar community should consider looking at one of the homes for sale in Oakland.

Mosaic has a stated goal of becoming "Kickstarter for solar," the news source reports. However, while Kickstarter - an online platform for funding all sorts of creative projects - relies solely on donations, Mosaic has created a slightly different financial model. According to the news source, Mosaic has promised to pay back all investors in their various solar energy projects with interest rates that can vary from project to project. The minimum amount needed to invest in a project funded by the startup is $25.

The most recent successful financing project from the startup occurred at the Youth Employment Partnership (YEP), Oakland's largest youth employment training agency. The news source reports that 51 individual investors collaborated to raise $40,325, which was used to purchase and install solar panels at YEP. Experts have projected that with the installation of the panels, YEP could save more than $60,000 in reduced electricity costs over the lifetime of the project. Under the terms of the contract, the organization will be leasing the solar system from Mosaic in exchange for monthly payments based on how much electricity is actually generated.

"We've chosen to bank on the sun," Steve Richmond, Mosaic's chief financial officer, told the news source. "The sun comes out, and the solar panels create electricity. We buy it at a cheaper price than we can from the utility, and our investors make a return, We want to fund projects like this every week."

So far, some of the startup's solar financing projects have included installations on the roofs of the People's Grocery in West Oakland and the Asian Resource Center in Chinatown. The startup looks to move into the residential realm, where solar power is quickly becoming a popular choice.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, third-party-owned solar power has transformed California's residential solar industry in recent years. Homeowners can pay for the monthly use of a photovoltaic system to harness the power of the sun for their home's energy needs, all without the expensive up-front costs needed to generate such systems. These arrangements are typically offered up as solar service bundle packages, with the company owning the panels also taking care of permits, installation, maintenance and insurance.

While homeowners and the environment are the big winners through these types of programs - by saving money and not putting unnecessary stress on the planet's resources - the companies behind these programs also stand to benefit. According to the news source, California Solar Initiative rebates for solar system installations in the Bay Area amount to 20 cents per watt, which is roughly $1,000 for an average-sized system. Over the lifetime of the agreement with homeowners, the company stands to save a substantial amount from government rebates.