project leader
Kirk Williamson
20 South Dudley
(All around Memphis)
latest update rss

the project

Memphis Bioworks is launching Memphis Civic Solar, a project for the City of Memphis that will install 1.5 Megawatts of solar energy spread across 30 different municipal buildings (50 kilowatts each) in neighborhoods throughout Memphis.  When completed, Civic Solar will be one of the largest municipal solar projects in the nation, positioning Memphis as a national leader in sustainability and creating positive and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits for the citizens of Memphis.

Donations for this project are to Memphis Bioworks, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, to raise a small percentage of project funds – a little more than 1% of the overall budget – as seed capital to launch the project.  After our initial seed capital is raised, the overall project will become self-funding and sustainable and will not utilize any taxpayer money.

Our fundraising goal is $49,900, which will ensure this project meets engineering, design and utility deadlines and brings solar energy to Memphis in way that is impactful and inspiring.  While our launch date goal is February 2014, utility agreements must be allocated prior to launching Civic Solar, which could mean that the project launches at a later date.  

We need your help to ensure this project, which has national significance and local, positive benefits for Memphis and its citizens, can move forward and succeed.

the steps

Bioworks has received initial approval from TVA (the utility) for 33 sites and will finalize utility agreements during the month of March. During the month of March, Memphis Civic Solar needs seed capital to fund pre-development work, including engineering evaluation and system design. This work is important as the project will only 6-months to complete construction once these agreements with TVA are finalized.

The project timeline is as follows:

Utility Approval

Reservation Approval (APPROVED)

      February 2014


Seed capital

Solar Engineering and Design for each Installation

      March 2014

Utility Agreement

Agreements Finalized

      April 2014


Funded and sustainable

Construction of Solar Energy Systems

3rd/4th Quarter 2014

Completion Deadline

December 2014


why we're doing it

Memphis has a great solar resource that is on par with parts of Florida and Texas. With the most sunny days in Tennessee (approximately 214), Memphis is a perfect place to produce solar energy.


A large-scale municipal solar project in Memphis will create positive and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits:

  • Generates abundant, clean, renewable energy that offsets consumption of City-owned buildings -- enough energy to power approximately 200 average homes a year

  • Employs 45-50 Memphians

  • Positions Memphis as a national leader in sustainability

  • Provides educational opportunities in the community centers and libraries on which solar panels are installed


Good luck!
This awesome. Can this system be installed in a third world country? what will it take?


The project consists of 30 solar installations. Each installation needs to go through an engineering and design review process that will include designing the solar system based upon the site characteristics, inspecting the structural capacity of the roof as it pertains to the load requirements of the system, and ensuring the system can withstand weather events such as high winds and hail. The cost for these services is $1,500 per site.

Donations will also help fund $2,500 in legal fees that are needed to begin the engineering and design and $1,000 for administrative expenses for the project.

SUBTOTAL = $24,000
ioby Platform Fee $35
3rd Party Credit Card Processing Fee (3%) $720
TOTAL TO RAISE = $24,755

RAISED = $9,495.00
ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
3rd Party Credit Card Processing Fee (3%) $275.53

Revised ioby Campaign Budget (12/3/2014)

The original budget was to raise $49,900 that would fund pre-engineering and design work as well as legal and administrative costs. The goal translated to $1,500 per site for 30 sites including $3,500 for legal and admin costs. The goal was reduced to $24,000 as the scope of the project revised from 30 sites to 20 sites and another $6,000 was eliminated from the budget after some of the pre-engineering work was completed.

We ended up raising a little over $9,000 of the $24,000 goal.

The $9,184.47 will be used in the following manner.

· $1,184.47 will be used for the legal fees incurred to take the project from pre-development phase to contract phase with the City of Memphis.

· $7,500.00 will be used to cover roof evaluations for 20 sites at $375 a site.

· $500.00 will be used to cover administrative fees.

The remaining engineering and design work after roof evaluations were completed were covered in in-kind services from a local engineering firm.



Hey Everyone!

We at Memphis Civic Solar have been working hard at bringing this unique solar project to fruition and thought it was about time to come back from under our rock into the sun and share with you the successes we have had over the past couple of months - successes that couldn’t have been accomplished without your support!

In late February we got some great news that provided the project its first jolt of momentum – initial approval by TVA. We were notified that 33 of the 34 reservation requests into the TVA Green Power Providers Program were approved, effectively confirming our ability to install solar pending technical review. Considering the lottery process that was employed to determine acceptance into the program, this was a huge victory for this project, as we could not control the outcome of the process. With this news in hand we were able to put the contributions we received through the Memphis Civic Solar Campaign to work.

Since this approval, our team has been working diligently to evaluate the conditions of both the roof and the structure of all 33 buildings. We have walked every roof on the list, taking measurements and making determinations of whether roof conditions are adequate to support the planned installations. We have not done this alone. One of the biggest contributions to the Memphis Civic Solar campaign came in the form of in-kind services from A2H, Inc., a local engineering firm. A2H is currently in the process of providing the structural evaluation of these roofs to ensure that each building can handle the additional load of solar panels.

Support like this from different organizations and the many individual contributions made to this project have been paramount to the success thus far. Over 80 individuals and a handful of organizations have contributed, all voicing their support to a great cause in our community!

The number of conversations that we have had with people throughout the Memphis community and beyond has been extremely encouraging, and we have witnessed an enthusiasm for this project, and what it means for Memphis, that has resonated with our team. We cannot adequately express our gratitude to those of you who have shown your support in both word and deed.

Thank You!

Thanks, A2H!

Memphis Civic Solar wants to thank A2H - Engineers • Architects • Planners for their generous support in providing in-kind services of $7,500 for this project.

Thank you to USGBC Memphis!



Memphis Civic Solar wants to thank the Memphis Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council for their generous support of this project through their matching contribution.

Article in The Commercial Appeal

Civic test: Will Memphians donate for a cutting-edge image?

By Thomas Bailey Jr.

The Commercial Appeal

February 15, 2014


Memphis’ campaign to go green could use some green — as in money.

The goal since December has been to raise through citizen donations $49,500 in seed money for a project to install solar panels atop 30 City of Memphis buildings.

Now it looks like Memphis Civic Solar may become a measure of how civic-minded Memphians can be, or of the kinds of causes crowd-funding is not so good at.

Two weeks remain before the deadline, but only $5,706 had been collected by midday Friday through (In Our Back Yard) is the same crowd-funding tool that Binghampton leaders successfully used to raise more than $75,000 for the Hampline bike lane.

This time, the idea is to place energy-producing solar arrays on top of 30 city-owned buildings, like recreation centers and libraries.

The clean energy — 1.5 megawatts, enough to power 200 average households a year — would be sold back to TVA.

The City of Memphis and its taxpayers would be out no money. An investing company is lined up to foot the $3 million-plus cost of the solar arrays and keep them maintained over the 20-year roof leases.

But that means the company — not the city — would receive the TVA payments for the power.

So what’s in it for Memphis taxpayers? And why are residents being asked to donate, collectively, $50,000 to get the project started?

“I think we have a real opportunity here to do something special in Memphis,” responded Allan Daisley, director of entrepreneurship and sustainability for Memphis Bioworks. The nonprofit, created in 2001 to spur the city’s biotech economy, is leading the effort.

“This is a cutting-edge project. Nobody else around the country is doing it. This is something that puts Memphis in a leadership position in sustainability across the nation,” Daisley said. “We’d really like to see Memphis in the headlines for some of these positive types of things. Getting the community engaged in something like that is a cause that people would rise to the occasion for.”

A couple of other benefits: The city will receive $7,500 yearly for the roof leases, and the installation will provide work to about 40 local people, he said.

The $49,500 seed money will pay for the pre-engineering required for the installations.

“We have brought a solar investor to the table,” Daisley said. “They will fund the project in its entirety once we get it approved. Now we have to do initial engineering work and site surveys and initial design and all the things needed to be done before they sign off on the rest.”

TVA, the federal energy utility in Knoxville, will pay extra money as an incentive for the solar power. But once TVA approves the project the installation must be finished within six months.

“We’re under a lot of pressure,” Daisley said. “We have 30 projects to do in six months. That made us have to do a lot of the pre-engineering work up front.’’

The application to TVA is due on Monday. TVA should inform Bioworks within two weeks if the project is approved. “At that point we have to get started,” Daisley said. “Not much time to raise the rest of the money.”

Thank you to LRK!

Memphis Civic Solar wants to thank Looney Ricks Kiss for their generous support of this project through their matching contribution.

Thank you to our donors!

We would like to thank all of the donors who contributed to the campaign at the fundraising event at Local Midtown on February 5, 2014:

Scott E. Brian G. Evan S. Michael W.
William P. Chris P. Jeff D. Jan B.
Andrew B. Cori M. Justin T. Alfred D.
Ben R. David T. Kendra L. Chad R.
Eco Surg Tom T. Megan V.  

Memphis Civic Solar on TV!

Allan Daisley and Kirk Williamson from Memphis Bioworks Foundation were on Action News 5 last week. Check out the piece!

Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee


Memphis Civic Solar was featured on WATN-TV 24! Check out the video here!

Also check out these features on the project:




This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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