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Website lets public pick sites that merit aid funding solar projects

With a national Solar Day of Action on Saturday, schools and public buildings across the nation may be in for financial boosts of up to $14,000 to help them go solar.

As part of the public awareness campaign, an Oakland-based solar-investment financing company called Mosaic is asking people to help it pick which community centers, schools, libraries and religious centers — including hundreds across Southern California — should get help financing rooftop solar projects.

The company has created a website called Mosaic Places for participants to click on any of 300,000 sites the company has picked for possible investments totaling $2 million or more. The list can be found at http://www.joinmosaic.com/solar.

For every 50 people who click on a place, Mosaic is offering to provide $100 toward solar panels at that location, up to $14,000. Since the website opened Tuesday, participants have already nominated more than 1,000 buildings across the U.S. Similar projects the company has helped fund have ranged from $10,000 to $90,000.

"The site could be a valuable way to see what spaces the public wants solar," said Brad Heavner, policy director for the California Solar Energy Industries Assn. "It's one of the many unique solar-financing mechanisms that are emerging."

One of the schools chosen to be part of the campaign is Estancia High School in Costa Mesa.

The school is part of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which wants to have solar panels on every one of its 42 schools within the next 18 to 21 months.

"If they had money to help us go solar, we would take it," said Tim Marsh, the district's administrative director of facilities support services. "We are taking a solar petition to our school board in September."

However, Marsh was cautious about using the site as a resource to jump-start the district's entire solar project.

"There are a ton of regulations and city codes as to where you can put solar on buildings like schools," he said. "But it's a great idea and we would definitely take a hard look at the offer."

Mosaic is a online solar energy investment firm that connects investors with proposed solar projects. The company then collects a fee on every loan. Since 2011, it has helped finance more than 20 large solar projects for public buildings such as community centers, schools and affordable housing units.

Mosaic Places' official launch on Saturday is one of 65 events organized by more than 30 environmental and energy organizations for Solar Day of Action. Organizers say they expect millions to participate in a host of social media campaigns, solar house parties and news conferences taking place on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

brianna.sacks@latimes.com

Twitter: @bri_sacks

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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