Ross home
The Ross solar installation that started it all. Photo credit: Ethan Drinker

Eight years ago, Sara Ross and her husband decided to purchase solar panels for their Massachusetts home. But their bank did not offer solar loans. Frustrated by the lack of financing options, the Rosses paid for their solar panels out-of-pocket.

Ross: “It was that experience of trying to finance our own array on our own house that led us to try and go fix this problem for the next homeowner.”

Ross used her young daughter’s college fund to loan money to six homeowners so they could purchase solar panels. She figured with the savings on their utility bills, people could repay the loans over ten years, well in time to pay for her daughter’s college education.

The gamble paid off. It worked so well that Ross was able to get a bank on board and launch a solar financing company called Sungage. Since then, the company has helped thousands of homeowners invest in solar.

Ross did all of this without being an expert in either solar power or finance.

Ross: “I didn’t have a background in either, and in some ways, I think that freshness of perspective is what allowed me to usefully and naively start a company in this space.”

She saw a problem, thought of a solution, and said, “why not try it?”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Jan Ellen Spiegel is a long-time Connecticut-based journalist whose career has included radio, television, print, and digital reporting. She has won awards for her reporting on energy, environment, climate...