People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Jason Sharpe, Namasté Solar

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&A’s with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How’d you get started in solar?

I began my electrical career with an epiphany. In 1989, while traveling in Australia, I had a moment of realization that electricity was the key to humanity’s ability to thrive, and that learning to create it sustainably was key to survival and the future. I earned my degree in electrical engineering from the University of Vermont, about the same time as the Y2K phenomenon, and launched my solar career.

What’s your favorite part about being in the solar industry?

Being an apprentice was the best job I ever had. I loved working with my hands and learning about the trade. In 2006, I discovered Namasté Solar which offered a unique work experience. Its mission is propagating the responsible use of solar energy, pioneering conscientious business practices, and creating holistic wealth for the company and its community. Solar was what first attracted me to Namasté Solar, and our culture and mission are what keep me here.

What has surprised you the most about the solar industry in the last several years?

Time and time again, the industry has proved its resiliency despite the many ups and downs we’ve faced, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertain future of the federal solar tax credit. One of our strengths is our ability to adapt, and the solar industry has proved time and time again that it’s not going anywhere.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

We believe the solar industry will continue to grow and evolve, with the help of programs like the federal tax credit. Public awareness of climate change is growing and will further drive interest in renewable energy. It’s finally becoming, I hope, a bipartisan issue. Nationally, the consumer wants to help. As we grow, we promote more green jobs within the community and expand the community of customers and partners who have joined our mission to invest in clean energy.

How’d you/your company stand out in the last year?

At Namasté Solar we believe that the best investment we can make is in our people. While 2020 was a challenging year for many reasons, we learned that our people-first approach works – when you take care of people, they take care of you. Our people came together in exceptional ways to navigate turbulent times. We established a COVID Taskforce to navigate changes while implementing updates, policies and best practices. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we offered additional unlimited sick time for COVID-19 recovery and relentlessly pursued safety as a top priority for our employees and customers. By the end of the year, we had exceeded all our productivity expectations as well as our revised goals, despite quarantines.

We also rebooted our community giving program last year called community profit sharing. Our co-ownership voted to allocate 10% of net profits to our community stakeholder. Each year, these funds are given to organizations that are working toward climate justice, environmental justice, and improving our local communities. In 2020, Namasté Solar donated over $75,000 in community giving. This included $48,494 to 10 organizations through the community profit sharing program; $10,000 to Energy Outreach Colorado through our Keep the Lights On campaign; $2,000 in support of Resource Central; $3,000 to The Alliance Center; and $12,000 to Cal-Wood Education Center to support them through the pandemic and 2020 fires that burned 10,113 acres and destroyed 26 structures.

With our Keep the Lights on Colorado campaign, we donated $10,000 to Energy Outreach Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit that will use the contribution to provide community solar garden subscriptions (CSGs) to families throughout Colorado who are struggling to pay their utility bills. We then asked the Colorado business community to join the campaign. Thirteen Colorado companies supported our campaign, and together we raised $30,000, which translates to 120 families receiving a CSG subscription for a year. The subscriptions provide long-term stability in the form of monthly bill credits that reduce the burden of home energy costs and free up dollars for other basic needs for these families — all while utilizing the cost-saving and environmental benefits of clean solar energy.

How are you helping to improve the industry?

We are proud to be an employee-owned company and a Certified Benefit Corporation that strives to conduct its business so that it works for all of its stakeholders. Our goal is to help transform business to be a force for good in the world, not just to pursue profit. I love coming to work with my fellow owners and enjoy the supportive environment we’ve created. Working as a team of owners creates high levels of engagement and care resulting in superior quality, savings of time and money for our customers and partners, and ultimately strengthens the community we live and work in.