Software entrepreneur finances solar projects in Minneapolis
The electric bill will drop dramatically over the next 25 to 30 years at Liberty Community Church in northern Minneapolis, thanks to a suburban solar contractor.
Amber Naqvi, a grateful immigrant, computer professional and owner of a solar software company, had solar systems installed at the two Liberty campuses this fall at 2100 Emerson Ave N. and 3700 Bryant Ave. NOT.
“It’s quite a Christmas present,” said Reverend Alika Galloway, who added that the solar panel fits Liberty’s mission as a seven-day-a-week center for spiritual and physical healing, health and wellness. wellness, technology, community gardening and youth. programs.
Ultimately, the two Liberty Church complexes will be able to pay their combined electricity bill of roughly $ 8,400 using solar power that they will sell to Xcel Energy. The grid will generate up to 120% of their energy needs and generate additional income during the sunny months.
Members of the congregation and neighbors noticed black technicians and interns from Go Solar in Bloomington installed the solar panels this fall.
Naqvi invested $ 450,000 in solar installations at Liberty Churches, another church, a few nonprofits and a small business in the various low-income areas of Minneapolis hit hard by the 2020 riots that followed the murder of George Floyd by the police.
“My wife and I started a business, Lake Street Solar, to help out some places that may not have the funds to do solar power on their own,” Naqvi said. “We have decided to do the projects through Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and we want to be part of the rebuilding in Minneapolis.”
Jeremy Kalin, a Minneapolis attorney and seasoned solar finance expert, structured the deal for Naqvi. Facilities are located at both Liberty sites; Thee House UV Beth-El Church; Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts, Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha (CTUL) and Woodland Stoves.
The transaction requires beneficiaries to reimburse Naqvi’s Lake Street Solar, created for this community partnership and future ones, for less than half the cost of installing the systems.
They won’t pay anything up front and pay Lake Street Solar only what the solar panels produce, and at a 5% discount from what the church would normally pay Xcel Energy for the same power.
Naqvi, as the owner, will claim related federal tax credits of up to 26% of the cost of the projects. In seven years, Naqvi will sell each system for $ 1 to Liberty Church and other beneficiaries. The beneficiaries essentially receive free electricity for the life of the solar systems.
“We are grateful for this gift and meaningful investment in our community,” said Reverend Ralph Galloway, husband of Alika Galloway and also pastor of Liberty. “As people of color of African descent … our cultural practices celebrate and activate sustainable practices.”
Naqvi and Kalin appealed to Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL), which works for racial and environmental justice. The MNIPL already had relationships with the Galloways and a few other solar projects on the north side, including the nearby Shiloh Temple and the nearby Masjid An-Nur Mosque in 2018.
“It paved the way for people’s enthusiasm for solar as part of the North Minneapolis landscape and helped promote energy democracy at the political or system level,” said Julia Nerbonne, CEO of MNIPL.
Naqvi, 53, is a Pakistani immigrant who graduated from Minnesota State University at Moorhead and worked in IT for former Anderson Consulting and IBM before starting a consulting business with partners. He sold his shares last year to focus on solar.
Naqvi is also the founder of a solar software company in Eagan called Solar Informatics. In just one year of operation, it has more than 400 customers.
“We are building construction management software that I think will be better than what’s on the market today,” Naqvi said. “We only finished 30% to 40% with our product roadmap. We created automation and processes that were once manual. “
He is the sole investor in the company, which now has 20 employees. It aims to double its turnover in 2022 and generate positive cash flow.
Naqvi, a soft-spoken technologist, also wants solar power to spread to low-income neighborhoods and employ workers from minority backgrounds. There will be more projects.
Solar power, which generates less than 2% of Minnesota’s electricity, is expected to reach 10% by 2030, according to the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association. Minnesota’s global renewable energy industry has 60,000 workers in solar, wind, conservation software, and other fields.
“I owe Minnesota a lot and we all benefit from the great program that allows international students like me to pay tuition at Minnesota state universities,” said Naqvi, who has also taught at the Metropolitan. State University and volunteered for economic development. initiatives.
“We want to develop solar in places where there is a lack of solar investment,” he said. “The individuals who take advantage of tax credits are generally businesses and people with generous pockets. We wanted to work with organizations that did not have the means to do so. And the MNIPL was already doing this work.