Alternative Energy: Ushering the New Era of Corporate Governance?

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Over at the MoJo blog, David Corn highlights the symbolic statement President Obama made Tuesday afternoon when he signed the stimulus package into law at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The museum draws its power from solar panels, installed by Namaste Solar Electric, a small, progressively minded company based in Boulder, Colo. But the most intriguing thing about Namaste isn’t that the president signed the stimulus package, which includes billions for renewable energy, under a roof lined with the company’s product.

What intrigues me most about Namaste is the business structure that governs the company: Namaste is employee-owned, with every employee given the chance to purchase a stake in ownership, and each owner receiving the same salary and power in decision-making.

Cynics might call it socialism masked as capitalism. But the company is about making money, and one benefit of giving everyone an equal stake—and salary—in the company is that the employee pool would by nature include only those most passionate about the company’s mission. The business model is exciting, and the fact that Namaste’s president, Blake Jones, was present at the signing shows the Obama Administration approves of the company’s mission. If the model catches on, it could transform the way renewable-energy start-ups govern themselves. But I do have two questions: Is there a point where too many employee-owners will bog down the decision-making process? And can those smaller companies sustain the growth the stimulus package, with its billions for the renewable-energy sector, will create?

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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