RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative fosters the expansion of solar power among mission-based nonprofits and houses of worship in Wisconsin.
Through a generous partnership with a local philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard, RENEW Wisconsin awards grants to nonprofit organizations to assist them in installing solar PV. Solar for Good also offers small grants for technical assistance to get projects started and see them through to success. Solar for Good helps publicize funded projects to spread the word and educate Wisconsin about the benefits of solar.
WHY ARE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS GOING SOLAR?
SOLAR ENERGY PROMOTES A CLEANER, HEALTHIER WISCONSIN
LOWER ENERGY COSTS MEANS MORE MONEY FOR MISSIONS AND PROGRAMS
ENERGY LEADERSHIP INSPIRES AND ENGAGES THEIR COMMUNITIES
What does Solar for Good offer?
Grant funding: RENEW Wisconsin will issue grants for up to 20% of the cost of a solar array, with a maximum grant amount based on the size of the array.
- For solar systems between 5 – 75 kW, the maximum grant amount is $10,000.
- For systems 75 kW and larger, the maximum grant amount is $20,000.
- The funding is budgeted as follows:
|FUNDING FOR||MAXIMUM GRANT SIZE|
|Solar arrays 5 – 75 kW||20% of cost, up to $10,000|
|Solar arrays 75 kW or more||20% of cost, up to $20,000|
Education: Our energy experts are talking to nonprofit organizations across the state about how solar can help them. Want to learn more? Invite us to present to organization’s leadership or board of directors on the benefits of solar energy and how it works. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technical support: Many organizations have a hard time funding the design of a solar system or finding the right organization to help. Solar for Good can connect your organization to a trusted solar design firm and issue a grant to help cover cost of a site assessment or engineering review. In addition, we can answer questions, review documents, and provide guidance along the way.
In October 2017, RENEW Wisconsin and Wisconsin Green Muslims hosted a webinar about the Faith and Solar Initiative and Solar for Good. To view a recording of the webinar, click HERE.
How do I leverage my grant?
The Solar for Good program is designed to help fund projects, not to fund them entirely. If you are awarded a grant, there are several ways to leverage a Solar for Good grant to fund the remaining cost:
Matching fund for a public fundraising campaign. If you have a community of supporters or want to engage the broader public through donations for your cause, the Solar for Good grant can serve as a matching fund to provide a bigger incentive for others to donate.
Contribution to an existing budget. Perhaps your organization has a capital budget or funds on hand but needs some help to pay the full cost of a solar power system. The Solar for Good funding can help defray the cost of buying a system outright.
“Gap” funding for a financed system. If your organization is looking to finance a system through a bank loan or other arrangement, our grant can reduce the amount you need to finance. This means smaller, more affordable ongoing payments.
Who is eligible for Solar for Good funding?
In order to receive the grant, the organization must be a registered nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin, be in good financial standing and able to accept donations, and own its building and/or be able to make necessary changes to its roof or property to accommodate solar. Please note that this program is designed to fund mission-based organizations; government agencies, municipalities, and public schools are not eligible. In addition, organizations receiving grants must agree to participate in educating community members about the benefits of solar energy. You can see the draft Memorandum of Understanding we sign with nonprofits who received funds through Solar for Good HERE.
How do I apply?
As of December 2017, we are no longer actively reviewing applications. RENEW typically offers two rounds of Solar for Good funding each year, including spring and fall. The next open round of grant funding and a call for applications will be announced in March 2018.
• Before you apply for a Solar for Good installation grant, take some time to learn about solar energy and evaluate whether this is a good idea for your organization.
• Get a site assessment from one or more reputable solar companies. Determine which company you will work with and identify the size and cost of the project you will install.
• Apply for your grant. Complete your online application HERE. To review a PDF of the application questions, click HERE.Note: To complete your application, you must email a copies of (1) your solar site assessment or proposal AND (2) proof of your tax-exempt status (an IRS designation or current certificate from Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions) to SolarforGood@renewwisconsin.org.
Applications for this round of funding must be received by Monday November 13th 2017. Decisions and funding announcements will be made by Monday December 11th, 2017.
RENEW evaluates each application on an individual basis. If your application is selected to receive a grant, we will reserve your funding until you are ready to install your project. RENEW Wisconsin will hold reservations for no more than 12 months, so all fundraising, design and installation for the solar project must be completed within that timeframe.
If your application is selected to receive a grant, we will reserve your funding until you are ready to install your project. RENEW Wisconsin will hold reservations for no more than 12 months, so all fundraising, design and installation for the solar project must be completed within that timeframe.
If you’re selected
• Accept your award by signing our MOU. Your document will be customized, but you can view a sample MOU HERE.
• If you haven’t already, sign your contract with your solar company and give us a copy of your contract and proposal.
• Execute your fundraising campaign. We require you to check in with us at 6 months and show that you are on track to meet your funding goal. If you are not on track, we will work with you to find a solution or cancel your reservation.
• Work with your solar contractor to complete installation of the solar project within 12 months. RENEW Wisconsin will disburse the grant once the solar array is installed and operational.
What about technical assistance grants?
For organizations looking at solar for the first time, a solar site assessment from a professional is the first step to determine whether the property is a good fit for solar and, if so, the recommended size for their solar array. Or perhaps your organization had a preliminary site assessment but needs to hire additional expertise from an engineer before proceeding with an installation. Technical assistance grants are available to organizations who need help funding a solar site assessment (up to $250) or engineering review (up to $500) for their solar array.
These applications will be reviewed separately from the seasonal applications for grants for solar installation and will be awarded on an ongoing, first-come, first-served basis.
If your application is approved, we will reserve your funding for up to 2 months for you to receive your assessment or engineering services. After you receive your grant, we require you to send us a copy of your solar proposal or report from your contractor.
How to Apply
• Identify the solar contractor or engineering firm you will hire.
• Complete your online application HERE.
Note: To complete your application, you must email proof of your tax-exempt status – an IRS designation or current certificate from Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions – to SolarforGood@renewwisconsin.org.
Decisions and funding announcements will be made on an ongoing basis. We will notify you within 10 days whether your application has been approved.
If your application is approved
• Accept your grant by letting us know. We will reserve your funding until you have received your assessment or engineering services, for up to 2 months.
• Complete your site assessment or engineering review.
• Email us a copy of your invoice showing the name of the company, date of services and the total cost. RENEW Wisconsin will then disburse the grant.
• Once you have received your proposal or report from your contractor, we require you to email us a copy at SolarforGood@renewwisconsin.org.
Are there geographic restrictions on who can apply?
Any nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin and serving Wisconsin may apply.
We are just starting our solar journey and don’t know the system size/cost. Can we apply?
Organizations should have identified a contractor and received a solar site assessment with a recommended system size and cost estimate before applying.
What happens if we can’t install the project within 12 months of winning a grant?
If you have legitimate circumstances beyond your control and can show progress toward your fundraising goal, we may be able to work with you to offer an extension.
Can we receive multiple grants from Solar for Good?
Yes. The same organization can receive a technical assistance grant and a regular Solar for Good installation grant, but it cannot receive multiple technical assistance grants.
Can we receive this grant if we are applying for a Focus on Energy grant or some other incentive?
Yes. You must let us know in your application which other grants or funding sources you expect to receive, including Focus on Energy.