Mosaic— the crowdfunding startup site that has been offering solar micro-financing opportunities to consumers since last January—is now enlisting investments in more than 500 solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems to be installed on the homes of U.S. service members and their families at Fort Dix in New Jersey. This is the first U.S. military project to be crowdfunded.
The Mosaic website connects qualified investors to solar projects in need of financing. As the solar project produces clean electricity, it generates revenue by selling power to the solar customer. From that revenue, investors are paid back with interest. The company claims that, for the first time ever, it is making it possible for the American public to invest directly in clean energy projects and receive a solid return. Most projects are fully funded within 90 days. If not, the money is returned to the investors.
Starting today, investors, large and small, in the State of California, can put their dollars to work financing panels on military housing. Mosaic is offering investments in a 12.3-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) energy installation across 547 homes at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst—the first military base to serve the Army, Air Force, and Navy collectively in the United States.
The solar installations will meet 30% of the families’ electricity needs and save the housing developer and owner, United Communities, $1.3 million per year in energy costs.
"Our nation's energy sources and our national security go hand in hand. The military is at the forefront of developing and deploying clean energy technologies that support troop readiness and energy independence," commented Tonya Johnson, who lives on the military base with her family. "I love having solar on my rooftop."
The Pentagon has increasingly turned to solar in order to decrease dependence on energy imported from foreign countries. Along this line, the Department of Defense committed to a goal of deploying 3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations—enough to power 750,000 homes—by 2025. To reduce the cost of solar, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative has granted $27 million toward promising projects, including a $2 million grant to Mosaic in June 2013.
"The US military knows better than anyone the importance of energy independence," stated Billy Parish, president of Oakland, California-based Mosaic. "Mosaic is pleased to offer more Americans the opportunity to tangibly support this by investing in rooftop solar energy for military families. As a father, I'm working everyday to create a secure home, nation, and planet for my children."
image via Mosaic
Mosaic is financing this new solar housing project in partnership with True Green Capital Management, a New York-based private investment firm, and CIT, a bank holding company with more than $44 billion in assets. The installation is owned by equity sponsor True Green Capital Management. In addition, CIT Energy, also based in New York City, served as Sole Lead Arranger in a $24 million senior secured credit facility provided by CIT Bank, the U.S. commercial bank subsidiary of CIT Group Inc.
"CIT is proud to support Mosaic on this innovative offering, enabling individual investors to leverage CIT's deep industry expertise in renewable energy while supporting the men and women serving our country," said Mike Lorusso, head of CIT Corporate Finance, Energy.
Mosaic investors in this project will be paid through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with United Communities, a housing developer rated AA by Standard & Poor's. Historically, AA-rated borrowers have defaulted less than 1 percent of the time over a 10-year period.
Investors can invest as little as $25 in the project. They will earn estimated net returns at a variable interest rate of LIBOR plus 2.25% annually for the first four years, rising to 1 month LIBOR + 2.50% for the final three years of the seven-year term. Newly registered investors can earn a $10 investment bonus 10, 2013.
Edited by Ryan Sartor