Third Party Solar Deals Growing in Wisconsin

But they need to be structured carefully to avoid legal trouble

Image courtesy of Willy Street Co-op

The Willy Street Co-op natural foods grocery store in Madison, WI is a place where some people come three times a day to eat, shop or just hang out listening to musicians who play outside. It’s also a favorite hangout of UW-Madison students. The co-op’s mission is to be environmentally and socially sustainable, so generating power with rooftop solar was a an easy decision.

But after the cooperative’s small solar installation was damaged during a storm three years ago, members worried about how they would afford a new array.

They were considering opening a new store at the time which would reduce their available capital. And as a nonprofit institution, they would not be able to take advantage of the federal ITC.

Third-party ownership, however, made it possible for Willy Street to install a new, larger solar array — a 25 kW installation that went up in spring 2016. Such arrangements have been especially important for nonprofit institutions like churches and schools that can’t otherwise use tax credits to help cover the up-front cost of solar.

Willy Street story

The Willy Street Co-op’s new installation was overseen and installed by the Legacy Solar Wisconsin Cooperative. It was paid for by an anonymous “angel donor,” who was able to reap the tax credit, along with some investment from the co-op and Slice-of-Sun Solar Bonds offered by Legacy Solar Co-op and purchased by Willy Street members and others.

This story can be read in its entirety at Urban Milwaukee.