Nonprofits and Clean Energy Entrepreneurship: Shifting the Norm at CalSEED

By Victoria Paykar

CalSEED has gotten its fair share of applicants looking to bring clean energy concepts to market. However, we see an important group mostly missing from this collection of entrepreneurs eager to advance their hardware or software concepts in energy efficiency, energy generation, storage, electric vehicle technologies and more: nonprofits.


Last year, CalSEED awarded a grant to The Sustainable Economies Law Center to create the Permanent Community Energy Cooperative model. This model plans on increasing renewable energy projects on the community level to make sure that solar can actually be accessible for all.Each solar project will be community led and designed for long-term community ownership. As it stands, solar panels (including the benefits that come with ownership, such as reduced electricity bills) are not readily available to people who do not own their home, people who have low credit scores or people who just don’t have thousands of dollars readily available to pay for upfront costs. The Permanent Community Energy Cooperative model, exemplifies one of the few clean energy innovations that has made low-income Californians its target beneficiary. Clean energy benefits have continued to miss the 74% of low-income Californians who don’t own their homes — the very people who would benefit the most from access to technologies like solar panels as they disproportionately pay a higher percentage of their income on electricity bills and disproportionately live in the most polluted communities.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published July 14, 2018.)

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