A Q&A with Solar CrowdSource's Founder Don Moreland

Posted by: Karina Antenucci

One of the great things about Solar CrowdSource is that, unlike some other tools out there in cyberspace, it is developed by Georgians for Georgians. Solar CrowdSource's founder and president Don Moreland wants to help you get the most out of your solar campaign with face-to-face strategy meetings, participation at local government council meetings, workshops and collaboration with campaign stakeholders, among many other things. Check out our About page for more on the company's value proposition. While you're considering our programs, get to know more about the man behind the company with this insightful Q&A session:

Why did you decide to launch Solar CrowdSource?

It’s really just the perfect storm of a lot of things coming together at the same time. The cost of solar has come way down over the past 2 years, so it’s now competitive with fossil fuels. Then you’ve got the success of solarize and community solar programs around the country. Georgia is a leader in intrastate crowdfunding and now, with the passage of HB 57, Georgians can secure third-party financing to install solar. All this together really opens up the market to community non-profit and distributed generation. Plugging this all into the power of the crowd creates a multiplier effect that will accelerate the adoption of solar, reducing carbon emissions, spur economic development, create jobs and reduce the cost of energy moving forward. Because Solarize Georgia, Community Solar, and Solar Marketplace programs are all crowdsourced campaign initiatives, it makes sense to bring it all together under one platform with automated marketing and campaign management tools to help facilitate the success of the campaign.

 What was your inspiration

I would say my inspiration starts with Portland’s award-winning solarize program, Colorado’s leadership in community solar and Mosaic. The DOE SunShot Initiative has done an amazing job supporting and nurturing these programs, which has served as a foundation for this project.

How do you think Solar CrowdSource offers Georgians something new and different?

The whole point to SolarCrowdsource is to make solar more affordable and accessible than ever. Georgia Solarize will allow more communities to run solarize programs, making solar more affordable. Community Solar will allow more communities and utilities to run community solar programs, making solar more accessible. And Solar Marketplace will make solar more accessible for communities and non-profits with a source of badly needed low-cost debt financing for distributed generation projects. There’s something for everyone and we just make it as easy to participate as possible in this new wave of alternative energy campaigns.

What is different about Solar CrowdSource than other solar platforms out there?

Solarize, community solar and Solar Marketplace programs have been wildly successful around the country for a few years now. Solar CrowdSource just brings them all together to create a solar market in Georgia where everyone can participate one way or another.

How can someone start a solar campaign if they don't see one for their area on the site?

We operate at the grassroots- and community-based level. If your community has yet to start a campaign, sign up and let us know how you want to participate. We will bring you together with other likeminded people in your community so the power of the crowd can be heard and together we can get a campaign underway.

Why do you enjoy working in the solar energy category? 

What’s not to like? It is promoting clean energy, is adaptable, offers little maintenance, is sustainable and also affordable. Georgian’s finally have a choice of how they consume power without paying a premium to do the right thing. We are very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

What is your past experience in solar? 

I have been developing distributed generation projects for almost 5 years now—everything from 1MW utility scale projects to 5kW residential rooftop. I am on the board of the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association, which is the leading solar advocacy group in Georgia. We’ve seen Georgia go from what can be argued as hostile toward solar to quickly becoming a leader in solar energy, and I am proud to have been a small part of that effort.

What are your hopes for Georgia's solar energy programs in the future?

My hope is for communities around the state to set goals to be at least 30-percent renewable by 2030. In Georgia, we don’t like mandates. But if we set a goal because it’s the right thing to do, we are very creative and can come up with innovative free-market solutions to get the job done.

Do you think we'll see a day when the entire state will run on solar energy?

One day, yes, but probably not in my lifetime. The truth is that solar is only part of the solution. We still need energy at nights and cloudy days when solar generates less than it does on a sunny day. Until energy storage solutions become more viable, we still need traditional forms of energy. But look out! Storage is on its way and when it gets here it will truly change how we produce, distribute and consume electricity. Tesla’s recent storage solution announcement is exciting and we look forward to the day we can plug in storage technologies to our platform and make storage more accessible and affordable as well.

Why should someone choose solar energy for their home or business? 

Because there’s never been a better time to go solar. Costs are down, the solar market here in Georgia has matured, and tax incentives are still in effect until the end of 2016. We don’t know if the 30% ITC will be renewed or left to expire which is why there’s an urgency to get campaigns going sooner than later.

Where do you see Solar CrowdSource 5 years from now?

I would like to see Solar CrowdSource become the go-to solar marketplace in Georgia, to the point where people log in on a regular basis to see the status of their projects and find out what’s new in their community. I look forward to expanding Solar CrowdSource to other states where market conditions allow and believe we can make a small contribution to the new energy revolution.

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