The idea for WindShare started in the Caribbean.
My family and I enjoy sailing around the islands, taking in local culture and looking for inspiration. On the blue waters of the Caribbean, one gets a chance to center oneself. That’s when our creativity gets going. Maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s the salty ocean air. It could just be the change in routine.
Talking to the islanders, we found that many struggled with access to affordable electricity despite the abundant sun overhead and wind powering our sails. Wind and solar are spreading, but only gradually. When we asked why, the locals told us their governments lacked the funds to build utility-scale facilities that could provide energy to a whole town or island. So they continue to import oil and burn it, which is a constant drain on their economies, but without that energy they would have no economy at all.
Bringing the idea home
Coming back to the US, I realized that our communities are islands too. They import energy from elsewhere, which is a constant drain on their resources, but necessary because it fuels their economy. Just like the islands, they would benefit from local, utility scale energy production, which pumps money back into the community through local taxes and jobs. But again just like the islands, most communities lack the funding to build utility scale projects and need outside investment to make it happen.
I wanted to help, and looked for ways to invest in utility scale community wind projects. Unfortunately, I found that there was no easy way to do that in America unless you are rich or a bank. That’s when I realized that’s how I could help: by making it easy for everyone to invest in community wind projects.
I founded WindShare to do just that.
Listening to the public
We started by talking to people. We found that the public is anxious about rising sea levels, supports clean air & water, and wants lower electricity costs but doesn’t know how to make an impact outside of donating to environmental causes, which reduces their ability to save for retirement or emergencies. The public is eager for ways to save for the future while helping the environment.
And we talked to wind developers. We found that while local governments support local wind projects the people in the community often don’t because they don’t directly share in the proceeds. They don’t think of it as their wind farm; they think of it as belonging to Wall Street or the power company. Developers need a way for community members to be able to directly support their projects.
We found that we can address both needs by bringing together wind developers and communities to invest in clean renewable wind projects, creating growth for all.
We provide marketing and facility financing support to community wind farm developers in exchange, WindShare obtains a right to a percent of the energy proceeds from the farm. We issue long-term bonds backed by those proceeds to the public at large, with local community members getting priority. The advertising we do for those bonds inspires local community support—the wind farm isn’t being foisted on them, it is part of their retirement savings!
If you want to help our communities or are worried about rising sea levels and clean air and water, you can make a direct impact by purchasing our bonds. If you want to save for the future but are concerned about the risk of stocks, our bonds are backed by long term energy contracts. If you’d rather donate your interest to environmental causes, you can do that while also helping build wind farms.
Buying WindShare bonds is easy, beneficial, and everyone can do it. We hope you’ll join us.
Dan Lemberg, WindShare founder & CEO