Our Community Impact Fund:
Investing in Local Nonprofits
Community Impact Fund Connects Mission-Driven Investors to Underserved Communities
Norwich Solar Technologies (NST) has announced the launch of their new Community Impact Fund focused on serving low-income residents, local non-profits, and business startups.
Traditional community solar projects work in two ways:
• Direct ownership – where customers buy part of a solar array as an investment, or
• Power purchase – where solar investors buy a community solar array and sell the electricity credits at a discount to residential customers, non-profits, or businesses that pass traditional credit requirements.
In contrast, NST’s Community Impact Fund allows local investors to own community solar projects that expand participation to low-income residents, small non-profits, and start-up businesses while allowing investors to use their tax liability to make positive economic and environmental returns.
The fund will link mission-minded investors with high-impact projects. Projects that can generate broad benefits to the community such as economic development and greenhouse gas reduction will additionally guide project selection. The fund has a 2019 target to finance $2.5M of non-traditional ventures, primarily focused on solar projects that can significantly lower electric bills of these underserved communities.
Since quietly launching in December 2018, the fund has completed three projects serving a low-income community, an environmental non-profit, and a human services non-profit.
Collectively, these initial projects will save their beneficiaries an estimated $600,000 over their lifetime and eliminate 950 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, two more projects are underway to serve additional low-income households and a local new business startup.
“These first projects have been such a great success, we felt it was important to promote this idea to create an even bigger impact. We feel there is a much bigger potential and desire for local individuals to support clean energy projects that measurably create benefits in their community,” said Jim Merriam, CEO.
While the fund is primarily focused on solar projects in 2019, the longer-term goal is addressing the “energy burden” transportation and housing put on low-income individuals and our environment. Low-income households suffer a disproportionate energy burden, defined as the percentage of gross household income spent on energy costs.
“In rural states like Vermont and New Hampshire, the cost of necessities like transportation and heating can be crippling. The transportation and heating sectors are also our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal in 2020 is to develop projects that address those two sectors and begin to really broaden the impact for communities,” said Jim Merriam.
This new fund builds off Norwich Solar’s deep experience in supplying solar to schools, towns, businesses, and non-profits. Norwich Solar Technologies co-founder Troy McBride will oversee the fund, aligning investors with projects.
“The fund is helping our nonprofit achieve its long sought-after goal of going solar—but with no capital investment.”
“We plan to use the savings on our electricity costs to broaden services to the community and bolster our workforce.”
“The project is not only a sound environmental and business decision; it will also free up critical funds to keep our workforce strong.”