By Lauren McDaniel, projectY
Karen Paramanandam, the Los Alamos-based marketing director and technical sales advisor for SunPower by Positive Energy Solar, was one of the first Los Alamos residents to join the projectY cowork community. She recently participated in a LANL Community Leaders Update panel that took place this July at projectY and featured coworking and makerspace models in Northern New Mexico. Paramanandam discussed the reasons she decided to join a coworking space.
“I joined so that I could have access to a professional work and meeting space and have increased opportunities to network with fellow entrepreneurs and potential clients,” she said, adding that she liked the bonus of a physical address – aside from her home – for mail and SEO purposes.
An employee-owned company, SunPower by Positive Energy Solar is the No. 1 installer for residential and commercial solar energy systems throughout New Mexico and currently employs around 80 individuals state-wide — with three living in the Los Alamos/White Rock area. SunPower by Positive Energy Solar was one of the original recipients of the Northern New Mexico 20/20 award and opened nearly 20 years ago at the Santa Fe Business Incubator (SFBI). Karen credits SFBI to helping their founder get the company started in New Mexico.
In a recent Albuquerque Journal article, SunPower by Positive Energy Solar CEO Regina Wheeler discussed the current environment for solar energy.
“We continue to see about 20 percent more growth per year as more people become aware of the opportunities,” said Wheeler. “There’s solid knowledge today that solar is a viable, attractive way to fix a customer’s long-term energy costs at an affordable price. It can help control unlimited utility costs and people understand that now.”
With more than 300 days of sunshine per year in the state, moving to solar energy can indeed come with a significant savings. Private companies and public entities alike are seeking out solar energy installation, including Los Alamos National Bank in Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Public Schools (which is putting energy savings aside for the classroom instead), Bar C Metal, Montoya Apple Orchards, and San Ildefonso Pueblo, as well as countless others. To date, most Los Alamos business owners have shied away from solar, according to Paramanandam, but Positive Energy Solar is seeing growing interest and active installations from Los Alamos and White Rock homeowners.
Despite such growth and interest, New Mexico recently dropped in ranking for installed solar capacity per capita; once ranked No. 6 (2014), the state now ranks No. 8 according to a recent report released by Environment New Mexico. A 10% state tax rebate on solar installations, which has existed for the last decade, also expires at the end of 2016 since the New Mexico Legislature did not extend the credit.
Paramanandam is hoping this drop in national rankings and in support from the state legislature won’t diminish job growth and solar energy advancements in the state. While working out of projectY cowork Los Alamos, she’s looking to extend solar energy more prominently in surrounding regions – including in Los Alamos, where she’s encountering challenges related to permitting, building code compliance and electrical service issues at many of the homes. She is also seeking to boost local area business adoption of solar energy; she said business owners in Los Alamos may not be aware they qualify for the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which offers grants to businesses located in small towns “for up to 25% of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75% of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.”
To better educate the public about solar energy, the system installation process and cost savings, Paramanandam is hosting a discussion, “A Business Case for Solar,” at projectY cowork in Los Alamos (150 Central Park Square, Los Alamos, NM) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Register for the free event online through the projectY cowork website for by visiting http://bit.ly/2aGmghE.
In July, Karen Paramanandam (second from left) speaks to a group from the LANL Community Leaders Update.
Karen Paramanandam is the marketing director and technical sales advisor for Positive Energy Solar; she works out of projectY cowork, 150 Central Park Square in Los Alamos, enabling Positive Energy Solar to have another physical location in the state.
As a member of projectY cowork, Karen Paramanandam will host an event at the space (150 Central Park Square) on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. and highlight why businesses and homeowners should consider 'going green' with their energy.