NationWize Brings Solar to Lower-Income Homeowners


Louisiana has the second-highest poverty rate in the U.S. It’s also in one of the top three zones for solar insolation, and enjoys low electricity rates.

What do these things have to do with one another? They may explain why despite a good amount of sun, Louisiana has not made it into the top solar states list. However, the state has been pinpointed as one with potential to watch, with favorable solar legislation in place to help spur the market there.

Another form of help has come from solar provider NationWize Solar. The company recently announced it has completed the installation of 70 solar energy systems for low- and medium-income homeowners in New Orleans. This is just part of a series of projects that has the company close to the milestone of installing solar on nearly 200 homes in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

NationWize says it’s committed to helping homeowners who can benefit the most from reducing their energy bills. The company focuses on low-cost solar leasing programs for low-income residents in both California and Louisiana.

How do they accomplish this? NationWize uses its own capital to develop and finance solar energy systems. That lets them provide homeowners easy qualification, $0-down options, and low payment plans.

This is yet another indication that solar is benefitting people of all income levels. Apart from the findings of numerous studies that solar benefits all utility customers, whether or not they have panels on their roof, it’s also the case that homeowners of all income levels are increasingly able to participate.

Jim Jenal of Run on Sun recently put together a nice illustration of this, and a study last year found that solar is rising among the middle-class in three representative states. When it comes to those in lower income brackets, there are increasingly more options, such as the one provided by nonprofit GRID Alternatives, which is expanding rapidly.

Meanwhile, NationWize is not stopping at 200 home solar installations. The company plans to install solar systems on more than 1000 homes by the second quarter of 2015 in California and Louisiana, employing installers throughout both states.

CEO Marvin Wilcher underscores the significance of this milestone, given that the company has financed the nearly 200 projects so far using its own capital. The fact that no bank financing was used for these projects, he says, shows that entrepreneurs can creatively aggregate resources to finance their businesses.

NationWize Solar has been involved in residential solar in Louisiana and California since 2008 and has been self-financing solar since late 2009, when it became the first solar company to lease solar systems in Louisiana. Wilcher expects fiscal year 2014 to be a record year for the company. “We expect to launch our 1,000 solar homes project by September 2014 with the goal of finishing installation before the end of the first quarter of 2015,” he says.