By: Daniel Richman

Oakland startup Mosaic has announced plans to use nation-wide “crowdfunding” in order to help finance its rooftop solar panel technology. While using the Internet as a launch pad for online investment is short of revolutionary — popular companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are mainstays for artists and eager entrepreneurs — the move signifies an exciting push for green energy.

Investing in the Sun, Replacing the Banks

Essentially, Mosaic is seeking to do directly what other “crowdfunding” companies do for entrepreneurs: promote their business and connect with small-scale investors looking to get involved. In this case, the cause is green technology and there are no banks or indirect fundraising. Instead, solar developers looking to pursue installation projects bring them to Mosaic, whose team scans them for creditworthiness, then offers to investors those that pass the test.

From there, developers build and own their projects, using investment money to fund all aspects of the construction. Then, they sell the electricity generated from the panels back to the businesses whose rooftops they use, and use that money to pay out investors. Even cooler? Each Mosaic investor is promised a fixed 4.5% return over a 5-year period, with investors expected to make back all of their money in 9 years.

As co-Founder Bill Parish put it, Mosaic simply manages to “substitute people for the banks”, and that this “decentralized” model allows people to get involved directly with green energy while still receiving a great return.

The First of Its Kind

This is a big move for the movement to go green, as Mosaic represents the nation’s first crowdfunded green energy firm, and it appears to be making the leap with a full head of steam. According to the official website, Mosaic claims a total of over $1.1 million dollars in active investment. These investments provide the backing for the company’s 9 (fully funded) projects in progress, which include multiple affordable housing complexes and community resource centers.

In only 2 years of existence, projects like these have managed to reach beyond city and even state borders (2 in Arizona). While they certainly have expansionive ambitions, Mosaic has had to pump the brakes for the time being, focusing on places where they have already worked with local officials to ensure that investments would meet all applicable laws. Right now participation for everyday Mosaic investors is limited to California and New York, but they are actively in talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission about taking this model nationwide.

Go Green!

We here at ResetSF fully encourage you to check out all of the solar programs Mosaic is helping fund, as well as all opportunities to help improve our environment. With the success of clean energy incentive programs like GoSolarSF paving the way, crowdfunded solar companies like Mosaic clearly have effective allies in the battle against fossil fuels.

With that in mind, why not make some green while helping modern business go green?