Groundbreaking Ceremony Celebrates New Model of Community Solar in Oakland

For Immediate Release: 10/7/2011

Meredith Fenton
Director of Communications,
Ella Baker Center
(510) 533-3482

Lisa Curtis
Communications Manager,
Solar Mosaic

(510) 872-9269

Solar Project Saves Vital Community Center over $100,000 and Creates Jobs

OAKLAND- (Oct. 7, 2011) New solar panels are being installed in Oakland’s Chinatown financed by a groundbreaking stream of community funding. Launched as a pilot program, Oakland Solar Mosaic is a collaboration between solar finance company Solar Mosaic and Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The solar installation serves as one of the nation’s first projects to connect those with money for solar but no building to those with a building but no funding.  Oakland Solar Mosaic will create over 140 kW of solar (enough to power 28 homes) on the roofs of organizations across Oakland that serve low-income communities. In addition to benefiting community centers in Oakland, the program is expected to create over 1,000 work hours for recent graduates of local green jobs training programs.

WHAT: Oakland’s first community solar project. Ceremony will include a tour of the roof of the building and a press event with a line-up of speakers that will be followed by demonstration from solar installers who worked on the ARC installation and recently graduated from local green job training programs into full-time employment.

WHEN: October 12th, 11:00am-12:00pm
WHERE: The Asian Resource Center, 310 8th Street, Oakland, California
WHO: Solar Mosaic, The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation

Instead of financing the solar installations through banks, which dramatically increase project costs because of their high lending rates, Solar Mosaic uses crowdfunding- an online peer-to-peer lending system that allows individuals to invest in solar projects in their communities. For as little as $100, investors can create local jobs, help a community center save money - and then get paid back.

The Asian Resource Center (ARC), in the heart of Chinatown, is the first site in Oakland to go solar  through the Solar Mosaic platform. The ARC is home to more than a dozen organizations that work on a wide range of social issues in the areas of affordable housing, health care, environmental justice, and more. The 28.8 kW solar installation will save the building an estimated $112,684 over the lifetime of the lease.

“We’re excited to finally figure out a way to create cleaner energy and reduce our overall utility costs at the ARC,” says Mary Lucero-Durst, Director of Asset Management at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, which owns and manages the building. “This will help us keep rents below market rate and enable our non-profit and small business tenants to keep serving the greater Oakland community.”

Jakada Imani, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, commented, “In this climate of misguided doubt surrounding the solar industry, Oakland Solar Mosaic puts the financing for renewable energy into the hands of the people. This project proves that when we come together, our communities and clean energy can thrive.”