In this profile, we explore the model of Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative based in Boulder, Colorado, that has installed over 3,100 solar electric systems in the United States. This profile is a tool for communities, particularly communities of color, to think about how a cooperative-based model could positively transform their neighborhoods.
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Namasté Solar is an employee-owned cooperative based in Boulder, Colorado, that has installed over 3,100 solar electric systems in the United States (as of May 2015). Namasté Solar’s success has caught the attention of clean energy advocates and policy makers as public interest in a green economy that reduces the nation’s reliance on environmentally harmful fossil fuels has become widespread.
Our interest in profiling Namasté Solar is twofold:
- We want to share with our partners the story of the company’s unique evolution into a democratically-run employee-owned cooperative.
- We also want to lift up an effort toward Energy Democracy that successfully leverages private investment without undermining the values of community control.
Four main takeaways of the profile:
- Employee-owned energy service cooperatives are viable and can be key tools in shifting communities toward Energy Democracy.
- The co-operative model provides a structure, but democracy is a product of choice, sustained by commitment to openness, distributed leadership, and equity.
- Accepting external capital does not have to undermine employee ownership, and the movement to divest from fossil fuels is a promising source of financing.
- In the effort to build cooperative energy businesses, public policy matters.