Mosaic’s Latest Crowdfunded Solar Offering Zooms

Mosaic, the solar crowdfunding service, announced on Monday that it had received the go-ahead from California securities regulators to offer $100 million in new investment opportunities in the state.

On Tuesday, the first of those projects – a 114-kilowatt array on the roof of the Ronald McDonald House in San Diego – was offered up and quickly fully subscribed.

mosaic crowdfunded solar

2012 Mosaic-financed project in Oakland (image via Mosaic)

It took Californians just six hours to invest $157,750 in the project, which offered a 4.5 percent annual return.

In Ben Bernanke’s world of super-low interest rates, that’s a solid return.

“The future is distributed clean energy, funded by the people. These are investments in infrastructure and they offer competitive returns,” Mosaic President and Founder Billy Parish said in an emailed statement. “More projects will be coming online soon.”

The public appears to be ready.

Mosaic launched in January with four projects worth a total of $313,000 selling out in less than 24 hours. More than 400 investors plunked down between $25 and $30,000, with the average investment around $700.

Heretofore, solar financing in the U.S. was mainly the province of Wall Street, with the likes of CitiCredit Suisse and U.S. Bancorp reaping returns from the growing sector.

Mosaic is trying to overturn that paradigm, or at least broaden it, at a very small scale to start. It’s early success has led to some questions as to whether crowdfunding solar might put inexperienced investors – those folks putting down their $700 in hard-earned cash, with not a lot of cushion if the invest goes belly up – at risk.

A recent analysis by Rocky Mountain Institute consultant Jesse Morris largely put those fears to rest, while recognizing that returns never come without risks.

Of particular note: Mosaic — as Morris pointed out — has moved to back up its claim of offering “high-quality projects” by backing truSolar, an  effort to develop standards for rating solar projects by risk. Founding members of the consortium behind truSolar, in addition to Mosaic, include DuPont, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Booz Allen Hamilton, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Assurant.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Patrick Moctezuma

    Absolutely fantastic idea- screw the stock market- invest directly in solar infrastructure with a virtually guaranteed return.