The Wisconsin Solar Farm
by Mike Paulus
A round of sustainable applause for Lake Geneva, Wis., people. That’s where Convergence Energy is located, and they’re building one a hell of a solar panel operation (the second largest in Wisconsin) with a twist. The twist is that individual investors can buy a stake in the project, purchasing small parts of the operation – three solar towers a pop. The electricity is sold to local power company and the income is passed back to the investors.
It’s called the Convergence Energy Solar Farm and the idea is, if solar panels on your home or business's roof aren’t feasible, you can invest in this project and offset your carbon consumption. From JSOnline ...
The idea, said Steve Johnson, vice president of business development, is to provide a green-power investment opportunity for people who live in a condo or have too much shade to make solar power workable on their own home's roof.
By the time it's finished this year, it will be the second-largest solar project in Wisconsin, after Epic Systems' corporate campus solar project in Verona.
But instead of being developed by one large company, this project is being built, piece by piece, as investors take a stake in the project.
"It's a way for a small investor to have a part in it all," said investor Dave Smith of Libertyville, Ill. "When you live in a town home like I do, there's nothing you can really do."
They’re dubbing it “networked solar” and it seems like a pretty cool idea. Interestingly, Convergence Energy also claims another market for their solar farm project is people who think solar panels are ugly and just don’t want them on their roof.
The base investment cost is pretty steep ($16,000), so it appears to be aimed at businesses and individuals with a tad more cash on their hands than the average solar-nik. But if this model works, perhaps it can lead to larger operations with a cheaper buy-in – almost like a CSA for solar power.
Also cool: Convergence buys all their solar panels from Wisconsin manufacture Helios Solar Works. Also also cool: each row of solar panel towers at the farm alternates with a row of sunflowers. Besides providing premium promotional photography, the company hopes to press the sunflower seeds into oil for biodiesel.