Solar farms are popping up across Wisconsin, and a new cooperative wants to make sure that everyone can benefit from the growing industry.
Cory Neeley is director of the SolarShare Wisconsin Cooperative. He says that to become members of the co-op, people pay a small fee, which is reduced for rural residents, veterans, and people of color. Then members can invest in local solar projects for as little as $1,000.
“That lower $1,000 threshold was really important to us to make sure that the average person, if they were making an investment in a CD or something else, this is very comparable to that,” Neeley says. “And so it allows them to invest and find a different thing for their money that does good in their local community.”
The co-op has two solar farms in development. When these projects come online, investors will start to make money.
“We anticipate a 5% return over five years,” Neeley says. “So every $1,000 invested is $50 per year.”
Neeley says that’s steady growth, not “get rich quick” money. But it can help people feel a sense of ownership in the clean energy economy.
“And this gives people that peace of mind knowing, ‘Hey, I know where my money’s going. It’s staying in our state,’” he says. “I call it local impact investing because they can point to that solar farm and just say, ‘Hey, that’s, that’s our solar farm.’”
Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman / ChavoBart Digital Media