Save time, save money and demystify home solar.


Your guide to a smart investment.

Solar Spotlight: Rick Coen

Publish Date: August 31st, 2023

Allow us to introduce Rick Coen, a co-owner and Commercial Technical Designer who has been with Namaste Solar for over 10 years. He designs commercial solar systems, which includes creating concept designs, permit packages, construction sets, and providing construction support. We appreciate his tenure, wisdom, and his love for solar!

Why were you first interested in working for Namaste Solar?

I began my solar career at Sun Electric Systems (Bella Energy). That company grew up alongside Namaste Solar. Watching how Namaste Solar operated, I was always saying to others that we should be doing it more like them. Their attention to detail both in the work and with their people, their quality of workmanship both in solar and in policy at the state level, and their general ethos of integrity really resonated with me.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I know it’s a bit cliché, but I’ve always been a “cause worker.” You’ve heard of cause celebrities; I just never got to that level. Care for our planet has always been a core motivation for me and clean energy is key for such care. Solar is the sexiest clean energy. I love being part of it.

What is something about your job that most people don’t know about?

With our pillar of Extreme Transparency, which goes much deeper than the books and meetings, I don’t think there’s anything that most people at the company don’t already know. If there was something, it would probably be that a large part of this role is working with vendors and other external experts like engineers, contractors, etc. While our drawing sets pull all that together, it doesn’t all just come out of our heads.

What’s been one of your proudest moments working here?

My “moment” lasted about two years. I’d moved to Fort Collins and chosen to do my master’s at Colorado State University in part because of their solar village and focus on sustainability. When Namaste Solar took on a major solar installation project at CSU and I got the opportunity to be Lead Designer on the 5 MW portfolio of projects across campus, I felt a sense of closure. As those projects now wrap up, I feel a deep sense of pride and kinship with those at Namaste Solar and CSU who made it happen.

What’s the most unique part about working at Namaste Solar?

I’d say that would have to be that even though I’m just an individual contributor and not even a team lead, I still have direct access to everyone in leadership and all the conversations I’m interested in. Another unique thing is the cooperative approach and how, even with so many co-owners, we all get to participate in the big decisions. It’s ‘uniquer’ than many other things here at Namaste Solar, but maybe not the ‘uniquest.’

How has Namaste Solar helped you develop your skills and career?

I haven’t chosen to change roles since I started here and I have no plans to leave, so I’m not sure my time here has really developed my career. I was already pretty late in my career when I started. But the impact on my skills has been phenomenal! Working with folks like Jon Ernst and Jason Sharpe (amongst many others) has taught me new things about solar design pretty much every day. In addition, the investments Namaste Solar has made in our workforce through classes and training sessions related to things having nothing to do directly with my role, have been life changing. Non-violent communication, gender identity, racial justice, power dynamics … I could go on and on. As a result, I find that I’m often equipped to be a better person in the world.

What advice would you give to recent new hires?

I like the term, “lean in”. I’m sure it can be intimidating at first, but we’re all better off when we all engage.

Where are you from?

I was born in Denver, so I have extended family there, but I was raised west of Philly. Through many visits to Colorado over the years, I concluded early on that Colorado is the best place in the world. I went to college in Michigan, met my wife there, and finally decided to use grad school as my excuse for moving back here. It has worked out in so many ways.


What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I like getting into the mountains to hike, mostly. I’m also a sports fan, a spectator mostly, so I spend a lot of time at that.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

We (my wife of 40 years now, Chris, and I) lived and worked in earthen dam construction in the bush in Burkina Faso (West Africa) for three years in the 80s. No electricity except for a bike-wheel wind turbine and a small solar module to charge a couple motorcycle batteries for small lights; no running water; no screens and no rain for seven months a year.

Tampelga Spillway Class

What has your experience been with our company culture?

When I started a decade ago, there was always a buzz around the office. People were working hard and having fun. Excellent work, but also a lot of tomfoolery. Retreats twice a year just fed that energy. Then COVID hit. Hard. Now with the offices largely empty, there’s just not the same organic dynamic. Retreats still feed me, but they feel more like life support. We still like having fun together and take our work and values very seriously. Much has changed, and with each new Namastalien, we take on a new facet to how we exist in the world. I’m looking forward to what we’ll grow up to be.

Recommended Reading: