OK, so you’ve figured out how maybe it’s a good idea to use renewable energy, and solar is the way to go. You’re psyched! You’re going to invest in getting some pretty blue panels mounted on your home / business / available land etc. because it’s financially logical, ecologically sound (um, climate change), and you want to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Great!
Then you start looking for installation companies.
Only to discover that lurking behind the mirrored rectangles of future promise lies everything you’re already used to, which is everything you genuinely dislike: Profits-Over-People Corporations. And you’re not against entrepreneurship (that darn hard-to-spell French word) or making a gainful living, but you’ve looked into things a bit. You’ve seen the facts about worker rights being trampled as decades of fair labor practices get crushed (assuming those jobs haven’t already been outsourced overseas). You get that, as an economic body, capitalism has basically gone septic (and it’s been that way for a while). It makes lots of money for fewer mega-turbo wealthy people, but provides little benefit for everyone else.
Enter the worker-owned co-op: Great Sky Solar!
Behold the scandalous idea that we want to be doing this work, and care about the workers (that’s us), and the planet, and can imagine no better life than being paid well enough to continue with this work serving people who want to further the renewable energy revolution. Do you detect a smile or two when talking with them? A little more heartfelt effort from these “employees” who seem to have the vested interest of a CEO, or maybe a family member? How strange…
So you dig a little deeper into this worker-owned solar co-op thing, only to find out that they’re not the only ones. There are highly successful solar installers built around this co-op model that are just as competitive as their traditional counterparts springing up all over the country (local shout out to Pioneer Valley’s PV Squared and Colorado-based Namaste Solar)! Oh, and because a giant national franchise isn’t paying executive salaries some unearthly percentage more than the lowest paid employees, that savings get passed onto you, and the system price ends up being pretty fantastic since Great Sky Solar can match-or-beat most other’s rates (with the same-or-probably-better quality).
That’s exciting. That’s quantifiable change.
Great Sky Solar started only a year ago and, after several months of branding, incorporating, and generally getting its sea legs, is really just at the beginning of the exciting journey. Or more like a quest. A quest to lead by example and provide the Greater Boston Area with its first worker-owned democratically controlled solar installer. Having two residential installations under our belt and more in the pipeline, it hasn’t been easy. But none of the co-owners can imagine doing anything else. We’re proud to be doing the work, and to have made the decision to go with only the best made-in-the-USA panels to up the ante on the high caliber of quality we’re putting on roofs.
The biggest challenge we’re facing is growth related – getting those next few jobs while simultaneously implementing the roles and structures to make sure we grow organically and intelligently. As with all things, balance is key. The nice thing about being an employee-owned social benefit company – we don’t have to grow. Maybe we can just be good at what we do, pay ourselves well enough to have a good standard of living, and provide good service without the soul-killing mad dash for cancerous growth and ill-gained profit.
Maybe your search for a solar installation company you can feel great about is over.