Work has begun on a Colorado State University (CSU) solar energy project that will help reduce the institution’s carbon footprint. In October 2020, CSU awarded the renewable energy project to builder Namasté Solar and financial partner Solaris Energy.
Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative based in Colorado, will develop, design and construct the 5.5 MW of solar power across 21 sites on the CSU campus in Fort Collins, with Solaris Energy providing the needed capital. Sites include the Johnson Family Equine Hospital, Laurel Village, Richardson Design Center and the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC).
CSU currently has 6.8 MW of on-campus solar, and this project will nearly double that. This is another major development toward CSU’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
Aside from Namasté Solar and Solaris Energy, an experienced project financier and asset manager based in Fort Collins, the project will employ at least 12 other local businesses, boosting the economy with well-paying green jobs. Work is underway and is estimated to be completed by late 2022.
“Our non-profit and local roots have been a guiding north star for us when it comes to serving our community. As a solar finance company, we also deeply value climate solutions and protecting our environment,” said Solaris Energy CEO, Alex Blackmer. “This project brings it all together, with our local university leading the way to boost the local economy and provide a sustainable future for the very students it serves. We’re proud to be a piece of the magic.”
The need for collective action to combat the climate crisis has never been more vital. When the project was first announced in 2020, Colorado was experiencing the two largest fires in the state’s history just miles from CSU’s campus. The fires across the west made national headlines, bringing home the climate and air quality benefits this solar energy project has, as well as other clean energy initiatives, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“When we work together to pursue sustainability goals, we can have a much larger impact on our communities than if we strive toward them alone,” said Jason Sharpe, co-owner and CEO at Namasté Solar. “Last year’s fires had a devastating impact here in Colorado and provided an even greater sense of urgency to address the climate crisis we all face.”
Namasté Solar and Solaris Energy are working with CSU’s sustainability and CSU Facilities Management staff to install solar on rooftops, carports, and a ground mount at a sheep pasture on the agricultural campus.
CSU will receive renewable electricity through a long-term PPA with Solaris Energy. The terms of that agreement fix the electricity rate charge to CSU for 25 years, providing a hedge against future rate hikes. 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.
News item from Namasté Solar
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