Olympia Community Solar Delivers Local Clean Energy and Savings

150 Megawatt-hours produced annually

$1 Million in energy savings over 30 years

$37,600 Owner equity leveraged

$305,000 Real estate improved

Olympia Community Solar wanted to help Thurgood Marshall Middle School transition to clean energy and lower its utility bills. A Craft3 bridge loan provided the funds upfront to install the solar project. Not only did this provide an environmentally friendly solution, but also it reduced the neighborhood’s energy burdens, allowing the school and residents to reinvest in their buildings, education, and students.

Mason Rolph of Olympia Community Solar (OCS) sounds like a classic Silicon Valley-style founder’s story. Inspired college student passionate about clean energy volunteers at an industry conference, walks out with a solar job, and then a few years later starts his own organization. However, Mason isn’t in Silicon Valley, and OCS isn’t a tech start-up. Mason is based in Olympia, Washington, and OCS is a nonprofit that develops community solar projects.

Positioned between residential solar and utility-scale solar, neighborhood community solar is a rapidly growing part of the solar industry. OCS deploys solar projects that deliver clean energy benefits to local nonprofits and businesses, schools, low-income residents, and organizations that serve them. One of the biggest barriers in the clean energy transition is access to capital to pay for the upfront costs of clean energy projects - a “capital bridge” that needs to be crossed until grant reimbursements or operating revenues come in.

Mason states,“Craft3 came through in a big way with a bridge loan, which enabled a low-income solar project that our team otherwise would not have been able to afford. Craft3's process for application, especially for a new organization like us, was very linear, straightforward, and efficient. At the same time we applied to Craft3, we applied to a different lender as well, and their process would've taken almost three times as long and jumped through a lot more hoops. We approached another bank, and they said they did residential solar loans, but not commercial solar loans. So Craft3 was the obvious option.”