The Legacy Solar Co-op is a Wisconsin member cooperative that strives to reduce wasteful and polluting energy practices and improve economic and ecologic conditions for our planet for future generations.
We do this through solar projects that focus on customer-based energy savings.
Who Is the Legacy Solar Co-op?
We are business owners, wage earners, volunteers, retired professionals, church clergy, teachers, bus drivers, farmers, entrepreneurs, homeowners and renters from all walks of life. We come together because we feel drawn to the logic and the appeal of clean energy for the future of our planet and our children’s safety decades down the road.
We call ourselves the Legacy Solar Co-op because once we put a solar project into use, it will quietly and beautifully provide clean energy for 4 decades or more – long after a lot of us have left this world. We want to create a growing legacy of clean renewable energy that supports our communities for the long haul.
Who do we help?
For the homeowner, Legacy Solar Co-op offers consulting services such as an in-home energy analysis and solar feasibility study. For a church, a library, a school, or any other non-profit, we can help design energy efficiency and solar projects and help capitalize the funds needed to get the project built.
For those who don’t own a home or have access to a sunny roof or backyard, the Co-op lets you invest in community solar projects through Slice of Sun Solar Bonds. You can help the Co-op advance the development of solar projects in our communities and earn a modest return on your investment.
In addition, our Switch-to-Solar (S2S) program derives Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from Wisconsin solar projects and sells the environmental value of this green energy to our members for a price that helps support even more solar development in our state.
The “Legacy” in our name draws from the long-lasting benefits that solar can provide us all.
Become an equity owner (member) of the Co-op today, and be a part of something bigger than one home, one neighborhood, or one city solar project. Help us help communities all around Wisconsin to reach for something better and to provide both an economic and ecologic solution to our century-long coal and petroleum addiction. Let’s join together and create our own clean energy future.
Solar Legacy Projects
Solar Legacy Projects are solar energy installations designed and built by local stakeholders to serve community institutions like schools, libraries, or churches. We call them legacy projects because the solar equipment generates pollution-free electricity for the community and future generations long after it’s installed –– often 30 years or more.
Legacy Solar Projects require three ingredients:
- Legacy Solar Cooperative
- Tax Sponsor
- Host Site
The Legacy Solar Co-op consists of community members who fund a solar legacy project or projects at a range of levels. Co-op members pay dues (yearly or lifetime) entitling them to buy solar bonds to help fund one or more solar legacy projects. Learn more about the benefits of membership.
A Tax Sponsor provides major sponsorship (approximately 40%) of a community solar project, and remains in the project Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) for a minimum of 5 years. In the 6th year, the tax sponsor may transfer ownership of the solar project LLC to the other funders (co-op members and host site), or remain engaged as a part owner.
Host Sites are buildings, often owned by the community, which will be around for decades to come. Schools, libraries, churches, municipal buildings, and hospitals with good sun exposure can be excellent host sites. If you would like to be a host or a tax sponsor, contact Kurt Reinhold at (608) 957-6801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The structure of a Solar Legacy Project is similar to a “Partnership-Flip,” an arrangement well established in tax code that allows public-private partnerships to utilize tax credits when some or all of the parties involved cannot use those credits directly. An example is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), legislated into existence in the 1980s as a way for low-income public housing projects to leverage private investment. Our Solar Legacy Projects apply this same principle to the purchase of solar energy equipment, and take advantage of a 30 percent IRS Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The Co-op, and oftentimes the host site for a community solar project like a church, library or school, cannot use tax credits available to tax-paying entities like corporations and the people who own them. Therefore, a separate LLC is set up for such solar projects and is owned by just one individual (tax sponsor), who pays taxes to an extent that the tax credits from the solar project offset or exceed the taxes she or he owes, resulting in a net tax decrease. IRS code allows this tax credit to apply to the most immediate year, one year earlier, or it can be taken over up to 20 years as a qualifying loss carried forward against taxes due.
Specific information on the solar bonds is available to Members and prospective Members of the Legacy Solar Co-op and is available by request. Members also benefit from the ability to organize and take part in their own Legacy Solar Projects, as well as buy and sell solar Renewable Energy Credits (sRECs) generated by solar projects developed by the Co-op. Any member may also use the wealth of information and experience amassed within the co-op to assist individual members with their own energy efficiency and solar projects. Such assistance could include informal “walk-throughs,” or more thorough investment-grade audits to help secure funding for a member’s own residential or commercial energy project.
What SOS projects have been completed so far?
Since starting in 2015, we have completed 2 church projects and installed solar on a roof of a cab company in Madison. We have 2 grocery co-ops and about a dozen more projects on the agenda for 2016 in communities all over the state. Join us and help us provide a solar legacy for your community.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the Legacy Solar Co-op. We’d love to hear from you!