Monday, June 19, 2017

Company Chartering a Credit Union to Finance Loans to Its Customers Raises Policy Concerns

A clean energy company is looking to charter a new credit union to fund clean energy loans for its customers.

According to BizWest, Namasté Solar, an employee-owned solar-energy firm, has been working about three years to secure a federal charter.

Blake Jones, co-founder of Namasté Solar, stated that the he expects "to receive our charter sometime this summer."

Part of its motivation to start a credit union is due to the difficulty its customers have in securing loans for clean-energy projects.

Namasté Solar designs, installs and maintains solar-electric systems throughout the United States for commercial, nonprofit, government and residential customers.

If a charter is granted, the credit union will finance residential and commercial solar installations. Also, loans will be made for purchases of used electric vehicles and energy-efficient home-improvement projects.

While the credit union will be located in Colorado, it will operate nationwide.

However, it seems that the primary purpose of the credit union is to finance Namasté Solar projects to future customers.

Unfortunately, being a customer of this clean energy company is not a valid common bond.

But I suspect the National Credit Union Administration can creatively identify an association that would allow customers of the company to become eligible for membership.

Moreover, this proposed credit union charter raises a policy concern as it appears to breach the separation between banking and commerce.

In closing, this proposed credit union should not be allowed to become nothing more than a captive finance company of this clean energy company.

Read the story.


  1. Hi Keith, I wanted to provide some additional information in response to your blog article above which is misleading and is based on limited and inaccurate information. Namaste Solar is a cooperative, and part of its mission is to propagate both the cooperative business model as well as clean energy. In conjunction with this, Namaste Solar is indeed supporting the start-up of this new credit union along with numerous other entities and individuals. Regardless of whatever Namaste Solar's hopes might be for the new credit union, the primary purpose of the new credit union is NOT to finance projects for Namaste Solar's customers, but instead to create a new credit union to meet the clean energy financing and banking needs of its future members, who are all clean energy enthusiasts and supporters that come from the field of membership which is a 60+ year old association, the American Solar Energy Society, whose mission is “to enable a 100% renewable energy society." Many credit unions benefit from the support of various types of sponsors - including sponsors that are companies - and in general, sponsors have a variety of reasons for providing their support. Ultimately, this new credit union will be an independent cooperative entity and its sponsors and supporters will receive no favorable treatment or direct benefits (note: with some credit unions, sponsors sometimes receive indirect benefits such as how a sponsor company might benefit from a credit union being available to serve the financing and banking needs of its employees, for example). If you would like to learn more about this credit union, I would suggest that you reach out to me or one of the other subscribers at an appropriate time (e.g. after this credit union gets chartered, if ever) in order to avoid conjecture.
    Blake Jones
    Co-Subscriber and Volunteer Future Board Director, Proposed Clean Energy Federal Credit Union

    1. Blake:

      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the clarifications.

      I would be happy to interview you, once you receive the charter from NCUA.



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