Namasté Solar Gets Attention for Its Community-Based Projects

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Colorado-based Namasté Solar brings solar to schools, homeless shelters, and community centers in addition to residential customers. An accredited B Corporation, the company considers benefits to multiple stakeholders and attributes much of its success to its unique business model.

Colorado-based Namasté Solar is bringing clean, renewable power to four schools in the Mesa County School District. The project will provide 900 KW of solar capacity, saving the schools $2.1 million over the next 20 years. And the students will experience the benefits and practicality of solar first-hand. 

The installations will be up and running by the start of the spring semester, and are currently in the final stages of metering and permitting, according to Namasté’s Vice President Amanda Bybee. 

 

Since its founding in 2005 Namasté Solar has installed about 2700 systems, totaling over 25 MW. Headquartered in Boulder, the company also opened a Denver office in 2008. They’ve built an impressive portfolio of residential installations in Colorado, and of larger projects in Colorado, California, and New Jersey.

 

The company credits much of its success to its unique business model. As an accredited B Corporation, its central ethos is to consider benefits to multiple stakeholders, not just shareholders. And for Namasté that begins in-house. Of its ~70 employees, 54 of them are co-owners in the cooperative, or are on track to be. Each of these employees wields equal voting rights over company decisions, and has the potential to earn dividends based on time of employment. 

 

Namasté also supports stakeholders in the community. The company recently installed over 2.5 MW of solar on some 665 affordable housing units in Denver. The project was a collaboration with the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), developer Oak Leaf Energy Partners, and financier Enfinity America Corporation

 

Namasté has brought solar to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, pet shelters, environmental education centers, the Denver mass transit system, and community rec centers. And they have even given away more than 200 KW of solar installations for free. 

 

Efforts like these illustrate the company’s genuine involvement with the community. But Bybee also says the projects are opportunities for “unconventional marketing.” By showcasing solar in important community centers, the company can increase its visibility and attract business. There is also the subtle but important reminder that solar power is a socially responsible investment.  

 

Namasté is actively involved with industry groups as well. Its leadership has held positions on the board of the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association (COSEIA) since 2006. Namasté executives are also active with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and the state legislature. In 2011, for example, general counsel Jason Wiener helped negotiate the continuation of the Xcel Solar Rewards incentive program.

 

This important incentive is once again scheduled to expire next year. And this time it looks like there’s no saving it. Bybee calls the upcoming end to the program “responsible policy, but taking place faster than anticipated.” She adds, “Incentives have allowed the solar industry to grow up, and now the challenge is to be able to operate without them.”

 

By decreasing soft costs, advocating for fair regulation and permitting, and continuing its support to various stakeholders, Namasté Solar looks poised to surmount potential obstacles ahead. Those include not only the end of the incentive program but also a review of net metering policies slated for next year.

 

As a SunPower Elite dealer, the company can deliver premium, one-stop-shop products to its customers with zero money down. It’s not uncommon to see Namasté installation vans making their way around Boulder county.