Crowdfunding of Solar, Other Renewables One Step Closer

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Earlier this week the SEC today proposed rules for Crowdfunding, which was initially enacted under the JOBS Act (Jumpstart our Business Startups). After the enactment of the JOBS Act in April, 2012 and given the early, but limited success of models like SolarMosaic, the growth in community-focused solar ownership business models, and the charitable sites that solicit gifts for renewable and energy efficiency projects, there’s been a lot of interest in crowdfunding for solar and other renewables.

Today’s proposed regulations (500+ pages of them, with detail starting on page 472) are just the first step. Once the rules are published in the Federal Register, a 90-day comment period will run. Publication could take another week. Then the comment period (which will very likely draw hundreds, if not thousands of comments) will run until at least January, 2014. The SEC has the authority to extend that period, and it probably will. It did so for the proposed rules amending Regulation D, part of which involved the right to advertise offerings and make public solicitation of investments. That was a piece of the puzzle to make some crowdfunding-like businesses work, but it’s not everything that’s needed and it’s not authorization for crowdfunding itself. Final rules will take at least several more months after the end of the comment period.

That could put us into the end of 2014 or even early 2015 before crowd-funding for solar and other renewables would be authorized by law. By then the adopted final rules could look very different from today’s proposal. Renewables developers, comment here on the SEC’s website.