Recently, Bay Area Solar Solutions LLC had the pleasure of catching up with Saint Petersburg’s resident solar advocate Brett Page.
During a short two hours on a stunning November evening, I was honored to spend time picking the brain of one Brett Page. The time shot by fast, really fast. It was evident shortly after our formal introduction that this guy knew a great deal about solar. In this day and age, it is quite common to run across those who know something about solar, but Brett’s solar acumen was rather impressive.
Residing in sunny Saint Petersburg with his wife Barb and daughter Brooke, Brett currently serves as a plant manager for the Hillsborough County Government. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Chemical Engineering and is more than passionate about solar.
As we conversed outside on his patio, Brett detailed his solar journey and experiences. As he became more embittered towards the corporate malfeasance of utility companies, he and his wife decided to take advantage of Duke’s then solar rebate program (a program that no longer exists). At that time, they decided to purchase a solar (PV) system the size of 7.5 kilowatts.
Upon choosing an installer, the Pages soon ran into installation problems, beginning with a permit delay. After the delay, as installation began, more problems ensued as Brett noticed the inexperience of the installers, including the location and workmanship of a junction box and its components. The Pages eventually selected another solar installer to help offset their energy needs by cleaning up the previous installer’s debacle. The second installer cleaned the conduits and assembly as well as improving the junction box’s condition.
Additionally, the Pages noticed the monthly kilowatts on their first few bills differed from projections, leading them to question the efficiency of the PV panels. Brett then purchased an energy usage monitor to check both solar production and household usage and discovered that the net meter matched very closely, leading him to determine that the original power meter was not accurate. ***
After initial stumbles, the Pages now enjoy nearly 100% utility bill offset (essentially only mandatory surcharges exist) as they take advantage of a process called net metering.
As night descended, Brett invited me inside as we continued our conversation. Although we hit several points regarding solar, it was perhaps his disdain of utility companies that drove our discussion. Brett’s support in defeating Amendment 1 during the recent elections rang loud and clear as he took election day off to campaign at the polls. Of note were two conversations he had with voters in which he was able to swing in favor of defeating Amendment 1, most notably a Duke Energy employee.
Brett’s concerns with utilities were furthered by questions in which answers need to be addressed, as he encourages rate payers to investigate such:
What are grid costs?
Why are customers paying an asset securitization charge?
Who pays for disconnects?
Why is the residential energy management program not on par with that of industrial users?
Why/what are there discrepancies in industrial/commercial rates and residential rates?
When asked about solar advancements in Florida, Brett suggested Floridians keep the momentum from the Amendment 1 defeat (including the grassroots movement), a change in the legislature and hiring lobbyists, more of a social media presence, and ultimately being cognizant of utilities.
As our conversation drew to a close, Brett and I pondered solar financing options, specifically regarding financial institutions. I drove away impressed, not only in the fact that Brett knew such a great deal of solar, but also his concern of where it is now and where it’s going. Brett Page is a guy solar needs. An educated consumer concerned with broadcasting the beauty of solar compared to utility companies and their monopolies, especially here in Florida. An educated consumer giving power back to the people.
***Of note: Floridians may have utilities check meters for accuracy, but a service charge may be applied.
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