SolarShare Wisconsin Coop. wins $100K federal prize

The American Made Challenges program recently announced the winners of its “Energizing Rural Communities” prize award, and SolarShare Wisconsin Coop., which is working to democratize investment in solar farms, won $100,000 in the Finance Track of the prize competition, according to a press release. The American-Made Solar Prize is a multimillion-dollar competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through contests that accelerate the entrepreneurial process. 

This prize is part of the Department of Energy’s $1 billion Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) Program, managed by the Office of Clean Energy Developments (OCED). The funding is available through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate new ways to improve the resilience, reliability, and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people.  

Incorporated in November 2021 by RENEW Wisconsin, SolarShare develops community-scale solar (1-5MW) in Wisconsin by pooling investment from people across the state. The Energizing Rural Communities winnings will go toward promoting the cooperative, hiring interns, and developing additional institutional capacity to grow. 

During phase two of the competition, SolarShare will compete for an additional $200,000 in funding. If successful, the cooperative plans to direct funding toward developing a K–12 Agrivoltaics Curriculum for schools in Wisconsin, hiring a full-time staffer, and funding a program to support low- to moderate-income programs in rural communities that host SolarShare projects.