Portland, OR Launches Solar Forward to Crowd Source PV for Schools and Public Spaces

Southwest Community Center

It’s not Portlandia, but the show’s namesake is kind of living up to the show’s style with the new Solar Forward crowd sourcing campaign. On Dec. 3  Portland, Ore., said it created the new campaign to fund solar projects on schools, community centers and libraries throughout the city.

The campaign kicked off with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales (D) announcing that once the first $50,000 round of funding is complete, the Oliver P. Lent Elementary School will be the first to go solar under the program. In introducing the program Hales also announced that the Solar Forward program, designed as a the city’s revolving solar fund, had received a total of $20,000 from Portfolio 21 Investments, Portland Development Commission, SolarWorld, Umpqua Bank and Wells Fargo.

“In Portland we have chance for the first time to join as an entire community and put solar on some of our most beloved public spaces,” Hales said. “Joining us in this community solar campaign is both a simple gesture and a powerful expression of our shared future. It's a way for all of us to show that there are still places in the world that value community above self.”

The program was launched following a $100,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation's Penstemon Fund. That grant was used by Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to install a 10-kilowatt PV array at the Portland Parks & Recreation's Southwest Community Center and to help establish Solar Forward.

The Southwest center uses locally sourced SolarWorld modules. “As engaged members of the greater Portland community, we at SolarWorld wholeheartedly support the vision of Solar Forward: A Portland where pervasive solar power contributes to clean air, a healthy planet and a robust local economy,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld.

Solar Forward is donation-based crowd-sourced campaign, meaning that contributors won’t see repayment for their contribution. However, all contributors to the Solar Forward Fund will receive permanent recognition at the host site, according to Portland.

“Portland Public Schools is proud to partner with the City of Portland’s Solar Forward campaign,” said C.J. Sylvester, chief operating officer of Portland Public Schools. “We believe this demonstrates to our students and community our commitment to being both good citizens and environmental stewards.

Crowd-sourcing for solar is starting to gain more traction in the U.S. While there are still few companies or organizations doing it, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently announced a crowd-sourcing campaign for solar schools and Mosaic has been developing crowd-sourcing campaigns to install solar on schools, military bases and elsewhere across the U.S.

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