Last week, Namaste Solar and financial partner, Solaris Energy, were awarded up to ten megawatts (MW) of solar installations by Colorado State University (CSU). This project, likely doubling the campus’s solar energy production is another large step toward CSU’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and complete carbon neutrality by 2050.
Namaste Solar and Solaris Energy are working with CSU’s sustainability and CSU Facilities Management staff to identify site feasibility for installation on rooftops, carports, and ground mounts. Construction and installation is slated to begin in the first half of 2021 with project completion set for late 2022.
Namaste Solar, an employee-owned cooperative based in Colorado, will develop, design, and construct solar arrays at up to 30 sites across CSU’s campus and provide long-term operations and maintenance. CSU will receive renewable electricity through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the project owner Solaris Energy, an experienced project financier and asset manager also based in Fort Collins. CSU will retain ownership of Renewable Energy Credits attributed to the new systems and Solaris Energy will own and manage the systems as a part of its larger asset portfolio.
The announcement is important right now, according to Namaste and Solaris because it comes at a time when the impacts of climate change are felt deeply in the local community, which is experiencing the two largest fires in Colorado’s history just miles from CSU’s campus. The fires across the west making national headlines this year bring home the climate and air quality benefits this solar energy project and others, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, can provide for humanity’s future.
“When institutions such as CSU partner with local businesses like Namaste Solar, it positively amplifies their impact in multiple ways,” said Jason Sharpe, Co-Owner and CEO at Namaste Solar. “We believe that investing in renewable energy is one of the best paths to economic recovery and a healthier environment and working with local entities creates well-paying green jobs in the community. Choosing to support a Certified B Corporation is investing in a movement that uses business as a force for good to solve social and environmental challenges.”
“CSU is a leader in many aspects of sustainability and we are always proud of that,” said Carol Dollard, CSU utility engineer. “Sustainability in operations is actually the area where we have the most room for improvement and this project helps us close that gap. More solar installations will continue to advance carbon reductions and help us on the path to 100% renewable electricity.”
In addition to reducing the climate impact of CSU’s electricity use, by investing in solar now CSU can also hedge against increases in electricity rates from traditional resources over the long run. To provide the most economic value to CSU, Namaste Solar and Solaris Energy will secure a portion of the project materials, such as solar panels, in 2020 to lock-in a 26% tax credit for the entire project, through a process called safe harboring. The federal solar investment income tax credit (ITC) is stepping down to 22% in 2021 and then down to a permanent 10% for commercial projects in 2022.
“We have always had a great relationship with CSU and are excited to work with our new investment partner to provide trusted, efficient asset management and financial service for this next step in their sustainability journey,” stated Alex Blackmer, CEO of Solaris Energy, “this fire season just amplifies the need for this project even more and we love that it is a winner on that front and more. It will help the university reach critical climate goals with numerous environmental and health benefits for the sustainable future of our community, while having strong economic benefits and investor returns.”
CSU has a long history of reducing the environmental impact of their electricity use. CSU currently has 6.8 MW of on-campus solar and this project has the potential to more than double that. In 2012, Namaste Solar and Solaris Energy developed six roof-mounted solar installations on CSU’s main campus totaling 1.2 MW. See pictures of this earlier project here – namastesolar.com/portfolio/colorado-state-university