Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day for 2015. But for Steve Pope, every day is Earth Day. The Verona resident’s newest business, Orange Mountain Energy, is in the business of bringing new, greener thinking on energy to businesses, schools and governments.
“I’ve got two young boys and I felt like I had to do something,” Pope says of his commitment to improving the environment. “I’m not a guy to sit on the sidelines.”
But he didn’t start out to create an eco-business either. Two years ago, Pope was running a thriving email archiving and compliance company called Smarsh. He was simply researching new technologies as investments. “I’ve sold technology my whole life,” he says, “and I’ve always been fortunate to identify the next wave.” Eight months ago, he decided to exit Smarsh and make the environment his full-time pursuit.
With so much new energy-saving technology coming on the market, Pope saw a role for someone to help evaluate the best options for every situation. “If I’m talking to a company about solar panels, I might also talk to them about replacing their existing bulbs with LEDs to reduce energy use,” he says. “Their business is the day-to-day management of their company. They might not have the time or expertise to see what’s out there and what’s viable in sustainability.”
Pope is a big fan of solar panels on parking lots, which have been popping up around our area, and permeable paving, which isn’t common in New Jersey yet. He also likes power purchase agreements, which could enable a government, school or business to add energy saving devices without spending their own money. A PPA company could, for example, put solar panels on a school and let the school buy the energy it produces at a discount.
Orange Mountain Energy takes its name from two things that are near and dear to Pope: Syracuse University (his alma mater) and his home in Verona. The Columbus, Ohio native moved here with his family six years ago after triangulating the distance between his wife’s job, his in-laws and his work. Orange is the color of Syracuse, and it is also one of the many names for the hills that frame Verona.
Pope, who now serves on the so-called Green Team for Verona’s Sustainable Jersey initiative, is actively recruiting salespeople for Orange Mountain Energy. “I want excellent salespeople in other industries,” he says. “I want them to take that drive and build something for the next generation.”