Our Approach

CEF develops community solar gardens that are transparent and democratic, are rooted in and driven by local communities, and advance community control, local wealth building, and economic justice. We deliver more affordable solar gardens that are accessible to more subscribers and create greater community benefits by:

  1. Non-Traditional Tax Equity Partners: Standard tax equity partners in renewable energy projects expect very high returns. This dramatically increase project costs and squeezes out most of the community benefit. We are engaging several alternative partners to harness tax benefits at a more reasonable rate.
  2. Workforce Development: We believe strongly in solar workforce development in low income communities and communities of color. We are currently partnering with Renewable Energy Partners to use our first community solar gardens as on-the-job training for North Minneapolis residents of color, and are eager to build partnerships with other training crews focused on engaging communities of color.
  3. Transparent, Democratic Operations: As a cooperative, our costs, revenues, business models, and decision-making will always be transparent to our subscribers. Our subscribers are our member-owners, who elect and run for the Board and share in any excess profits.
  4. Rooted Community Partnership: We are already working in partnership with a number of community groups across Minnesota. Our current projects were identified at the request of local community partners, including neighborhood groups, community-based organizations, and congregations. We develop arrays based on the expressed interest of current and potential co-op members, and partner with communities to engage subscribers.
  5. Seeking Partnership for Low-Risk Repayment Methods for “pay-as-you-save” Community Solar: We have modeled community solar subscriptions that would be paid on a monthly basis at a lower cost than the electric savings. We are seeking local government, community development, and finance partners to make this viable so that everyone can afford solar.

Download a description of the Cooperative Energy Futures Approach to Community Solar

We develop cooperatively owned community solar in the range of 200-250kW or 500-1,000kW in the following range of prices/ benefits:

Model: Full Array Subscribed Upfront ~50% of the array subscribed upfront, the rest monthly
Upfront Subscriptions Monthly Subscriptions
Upfront $ $350-$450/ 200W share ~$500/200W share $0
Annual $ $10-$15/ 200W share $0 Avg. $45/ 200 W share
Savings/yr Avg. $49/ 200 W share Avg. $47/ 200 W share Avg. $49/ 200 W share
Net benefits ~6-9% annual return ~6-9% annual return Avg. 10% cost savings/yr

Interested in subscribing to our first garden? Click Here!

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