A Princeton Startup Democratizing Access To Solar Power
Many of us still view solar power technology as cool, cutting-edge innovation that only those with deep pocketbooks can leverage. We recognize the many ways that solar energy is beneficial for our lives and the world, yet don’t have the means to actually access it ourselves. Thanks to a pair of Princeton graduates, we now have a solution.
Founded in 2014 by Princeton alumni, Steve Moilanen and Steph Speirs, Solstice Initiative is transforming solar energy distribution by scaling a new delivery model, known as “community solar.” The company’s aim is to align community resources and create solar accessibility for millions of Americans all across the country.
Transforming Solar Power Delivery For Millions
Although solar power is an extremely valuable source of renewable energy, it is inaccessible to much of the country. Individuals or families who rent, are low-income, or have poor credit are unable to participate in the beneficial, yet expensive solar energy movement. In aggregate, this represents 80% of the country or 90 million American households. Solstice Initiative is changing the model around solar power delivery by allowing households to purchase access to solar power instead of installing panels on their roofs. Without incurring any upfront cost, families can now spend less money on electricity and enjoy clean energy.
Referred to as “community solar,” this new model allows households to buy shares of solar power farms in their neighborhoods at affordable prices. Solstice Initiative’s role in this model involves identifying community organizations that are interested in hosting solar arrays, arranging financing, designing the solar product, and ensuring subscribers see the financial benefits on their utility bills. Through the company’s program, families save thousands of dollars on electricity and power their homes with clean, renewable energy.
Inspiration Found Overseas
Solstice Initiative was co-founded by Steve Moilanen and Steph Speirs, two Princeton alumni who both received master’s degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The two spent time focusing on scaling solar power deployment across microgrids in India and realized that rural Indian villages had an easier time accessing solar power than much of the U.S. They returned stateside, learned about the community solar model and, shortly after, decided to launch Solstice Initiative.
Early on, Solstice Initiative participated in Princeton’s 2014 eLab Summer Accelerator and the two founders were awarded Echoing Green fellowships for their innovative efforts. The startup also received $800k in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to continue expanding access to community-shared solar power. Today, Solstice Initiative and its founders are still working hard to realize their vision of affordable solar energy for all.
This Untold Spotlight Initiative story serves as a powerful example of how to outmaneuver the obstacles that may stand in your way of achieving a vision. The Solstice Initiative team had to innovate on the status quo approach to delivering solar energy to households in order to create access for populations that otherwise would not be able to use the technology. By scaling the community solar model, Solstice Initiative has the potential to open up the renewable energy movement for millions of people nationwide.
Many times as an entrepreneur, you understand the solution to a problem without knowing how to deploy it. Although there may be proven demand for your product, other barriers may be preventing people from accessing your services. Take the time to consider alternative approaches to reaching your customers so that you can truly impact their lives and transform the delivery channels for your specific service.
For those of you interested in learning more about Solstice Initiative, visit the company’s website here!