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Outlets for Change: Renewable Microgrid for Rural Uganda

Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
142 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on May 06, at 11:59 PM PDT
Project Owners

Three Months, 0 Seconds Downtime = Back to Uganda for Expansion

October 26, 2015

Dear All-

I am very proud to announce that our microgrid prototype, commissioned in early July, has now provided solar power autonomously in Lake Victoria for more than three months with 0 system outages and full real-time monitoring.

Check the live data out here: beta sample of our real-time monitoring system .

This technical success means we will in early November extend the system to 20 more homes and businesses, using the fund to which you so generously contributed. 

We are also in the process of receiving a license for 2-2.5 MW, or roughly 250x the size of our prototype, to provide electricity access to many more in Kitobo and other islands across Lake Victoria.

We are excited about the opportunities ahead and very grateful to you all for believing in our work.

Scaling our microgrid systems in Lake Victoria and beyond, in concert with our industry partners, will require new levels of organizational infrastructure, planning, and public-private fundraising.

For those of you interested in continuing to take part in our work, via advisory or other roles, we will be in contact with opportunities to do so in November.

For now, I think many of you will enjoy, as others have, the linked video, also below, a visual diary of the June-July build, with wonderful music--the rights to which were generously donated by the musician, Rationale--and a great payoff.

All my best.

Jalel Sager 

Director, CAL-RAE 

Director, New Sun Road

Energy and Resources Group, UC-Berkeley




Outstanding First 3 Days

April 09, 2015

Dear Backers-

All of us here at CAL-RAE would like to graciously thank you for your support in helping make this project a reality--the outpouring of support from our communities has been outstanding.

A quick update on perks:

  • We have added added a perk at the $15 level to ensure that small donors are rewarded for their important contribution.

  • Our top level perk, at $2,500, now includes an invitation to the "Solar-Tree" comissioning ceremony on Kitobo, to be held later this year. The event is certain to be a unique opportunity to witness first-hand the impact your contribution will have on the communtiy. (Please note: the donation cannot cover travel or expenses.)

We encourage you all to please share our campaign via email,  Facebook, and  Twitter, to help us maintain our early momentum!

We cannot thank you enough for your support; getting this idea off the ground is a community effort!

With deep gratitude, 

The CAL-RAE Team

Solar Trees Planted and Power Flowing

July 06, 2015

Dear Backers-

It has been a busy last few weeks on Kitobo Island, and we are all excited about the progress made so far! All 9 Solar Trees for stage 1 of the build have been installed, the control shed has been fabricated, panels have been mounted, and solar electricity is now flowing!

Our engineers are busy testing the system, but we expect to begin supplying electricity to the community within the week.

Check out some of our photos below, and please check us out on Facebook to get the most up to date info from the field.

Stay tuned!


The Cal-RAE Team

Microgrid Live

July 21, 2015

Dear Backers-

All of us here at Cal-RAE are excited to announce that the microgrid system is live--supplying about 20 users with round-the-clock, renewable electricity!

Users are already enjoying the new flexibility of their power source. These users can now power a wider selection of income-generating devices like hair clippers and refrigerators, which were previously unusable with the diesel generator connection. Locals outside of our initial service area are excited for our return to Kitobo for system expansion, planned for later this year.

Have a look at the completed control shed surrounded by 6 of our Solar Trees, seen below.

Thank you all for your support!

Graciously yours,

The Cal-RAE Team

An Update from the Team

April 20, 2015

Hi CAL-RAE Backers-

We would like to sincerely thank everyone that has contributed to CAL-RAE's crowdfunding campaign. We have been live for two weeks now, and have raised nearly $6500! The outpouring of support from our communities has been impressive.

Please check out the attached video that features testimony from a few CAL-RAE team members on what drives their passion for energy access.

Please also do us the huge favor of sharing the campaign with 5 of your friends. Whether you are able to share via word-of-mouth, social media, or email; the more people that learn about the project, the greater the likelihood we are able to meet our fundraising goal, and in turn promote new opportunities on Kitobo Island.

Lets keep up the momentum in the final two weeks of the campaign!

Graciously yours,

The CAL-RAE Team



Homestretch Rally

April 27, 2015

Dear Backers-

CAL-RAE was featured on ABC7 News in the Bay Area last night; check it out!

We are in the homestretch, with only 9 days remain in the crowdfunding campaign

Accordingly, here are 9 benefits CAL-RAE’s micro-grid will bring to the people of Kitobo:

  1. Full time reliable power
  2. New opportunities for businesses to expand with more electricity
  3. Reduced reliance on complicated and expensive fuel supply chains
  4. Replacement of polluting, inefficient diesel generators
  5. Reduced risk of burns and respiratory illnesses posed by kerosene lamps
  6. Ability to run modern health care equipment 
  7. Efficient LED lighting in homes for nighttime studying
  8. LED street lamps for public safety
  9. Less impact on local ecosystems

Please share CAL-RAE’s campaign  ( with your networks and help us reach our funding goal!

Here is to a successful final week!

Graciously yours,

The CAL-RAE Team

Good Tidings; One Week Remaining; a Challenge to You

April 29, 2015

Dear Backers-

CAL-RAE’s crowdfunding campaign has gained substantial ground in the last day. At last check, we have raised 88% of our total goal! We also have now surpassed the 100 donor mark! Enormous thanks to each and every one of you that has allowed us to get this far.

With only 1 week remaining in the campaign, the CAL-RAE team would like to ask our generous donors to help us maintain our momentum and push us over the $15k goal, and towards our stretch goal of $25k; every dollar raised toward our stretch goal will be used to build more infrastructure to broaden the reach of the solar-electric grid beyond the "city center", and enable more of the community to realize the benefits of access to reliable electricity.

The CAL-RAE team challenges you to share the campaign ( with five of your friends via social media, email, or good old fashion face-to-face conversation. During your conversations, encourage your friend/employer/neighbor/whomever to match your gift to the campaign, and get involved with this opportunity to bring quantifiable change to an underserved community!

The entire team here at CAL-RAE is genuinely humbled by the continued support we receive from our outstanding communities.

Here’s to keeping up the pace!

Graciously yours,

The CAL-RAE Team

Hello from Uganda!

June 13, 2015

Dear Backers-


Hello from Uganda!

The first stage of the micro grid build is underway on Kitobo Island, Uganda.

We broke ground this last week, and are expecting to plant the first grove of Solar Trees in the week to come!

Please check out our Facebook page to get the latest on the build, including photos and first hand accounts.

The community is very excited about the donor-supported system expansion later this year!

Keep an eye out for information on how to redeem your perks toward the end of this month.

Thank you all for the part you have played in bringing reliable, renewable electricity to this beautiful island!


Graciously yours,

The Cal-RAE Team



Sprinting Toward Our Stretch Goal

May 05, 2015

Dear Supporters-

Yesterday evening CAL-RAE met its $15,000 fundraising goal! We are all incredibly grateful for the role each of you has played in making this possible.

CAL-RAE’s solar energy project is currently featured in an article in Oakland North. Have a look:

With a little more than a day remaining, our attention now turns to our stretch goal of $25,000. Every dollar raised toward our stretch goal will help CAL-RAE bring more reliable electricity to the people of Kitobo. The funds will allow users outside of the “city center” to connect to the solar micro-grid, and have access to the same benefits their centrally located neighbors are set to enjoy.

Please help CAL-RAE push toward our stretch goal by sharing the campaign with 5 of your contacts. Pass along the crowdfunding page ( with a note saying this is a project you care about, and a challenge to match your contribution.

Again, thank you all so very much for your help in getting us this far; we are all ecstatic to be part of the communities that have come forward to support our efforts!

Graciously yours,

The CAL-RAE Team

Our way
of Thanking You


Charge a Cellphone

Provide enough electricity to allow a user to charge a cellphone on a daily basis. Currently, residents pay high rates to charge their phones on the island, or must travel far to plug in to a normal outlet. You will be automatically subscribed to the project build blog.

13 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Light a Room

Enable CAL-RAE to bring light to a single room of a residence on Kitobo. As a thank you, your name will be featured on our blog, and you will be automatically subscribed to our build blog.

28 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Fresh Air

Provide enough electricity to replace all of the kerosene lamps in a residence, clearing the indoor air of toxic pollutants. Receive a digital CAL-RAE poster, in addition to the perks from the lower levels.

34 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Light the Night

Enable the installation of an LED street light to increase night safety. Gain access to CAL-RAE live system monitoring to watch the system's performance in realtime, in addition to the perks from lower levels.

34 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Buy a Panel

A contribution at this level is enough to buy a 300W solar panel, which will serve Kitobo for 20+ years. Gain access to system monitoring and perks from lower levels.

5 of 50 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Power to Work

Enable the use of a productive load like a refrigerator, or processing machine to help a business. Your name will be drawn on our "donor wall" mural at the time of system commissioning, in addition to the perks from lower levels

2 of 50 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Power a House

Bring power to an entire home or business. Enable refrigeration, entertainment, lighting and cell-phone charging. Receive platinum donor status on the "donor-wall" mural, in addition to the perks from the lower levels.

4 of 20 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Plant a Tree

Enable CAL-RAE to build a "Solar Tree," (seen in the image above left) which harvests solar energy high above building rooftops. As a perk, we will draw a custom message of your choosing on the "Solar Tree."

0 of 10 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015


Block Party

Bring power to 4 users. Enable businesses to flourish, clinics to offer refrigerated medicines and children to study by night. Invitation to commissioning event for Solar Trees in Kitobo (donation cannot cover travel or expenses), and perks from lower levels.

1 of 10 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: June 2015
Our Crowdfunding Groups