Peter – Winter Park, FL

April 29, 2024 Florida, Homeowner stories

By not spending hundreds of dollars for electricity, we have been able to use our money from recycling to fund our nonprofit

Peter – Winter Park, FL

Why did you decide to go solar?

In 2002, as the Assistant Director of Westside Tech, I thought it might be good to offer important training that would benefit both the students and the world. I contacted the Florida Solar Energy Center and asked them if I could send one of our Electrical Instructors for training in installations. They agreed and Steve Lowe went for a week. He came back certified and we purchased some photovoltaic modules and inverters and installed them on the ground and on several buildings. We also installed systems on Ocoee Middle School and Ocoee Elementary. Westside Tech was designated as the most energy efficient campus in the Orange County Public School System!

What was the process like for you? Did anything surprise you, or were there challenges you had to overcome?

The largest hurtle was Progress Energy. It was a new concept and they said that we could install a system, but we would have to have a separate meter to read the energy and would have to pay $79.00 a month to have it read. I wrote a letter, as did others, to the Florida Public Service Commission and the idea of Net Metering was adopted. Progress Energy is now Duke Energy.

Have any of your habits changed since going solar?

I was fortunate enough to have systems installed on Manatee Technical Institute, Pinellas Technical Education Center, Seminole Vocational Education Center and my home.

On our home, we have had a Solar Thermal system since the freeze in the early 1990s. With upgrades: a metal roof; duel pane windows; extra insulation in the attic and power strips around the house that allow us to turn off appliances and other electronics that consume power when turned off, we made more electricity than we used in 2023!

Have you seen electricity savings since going solar? If so, what have you been able to do with that savings?

We definitely enjoy the savings – our monthly bill is $31.29 per month. This is the minimum bill that Duke will allow us to pay, even though we put more energy into the grid than we use. By not spending hundreds of dollars for electricity, we have been able to use our money from recycling to fund our 501 C 3 – Green Trees Once More, dba In 2023, we planted 250 Bald Cypress Trees to sequester carbon dioxide, to restore wetlands, to provide habitat for wildlife, and to help cool the area. By recycling several tons of metal, we saved over 500 metric tons of CO2 being produced and paid for the 2.9 acres of land, the bush hogging and the trees. On Earth Day, volunteers with Green Trees Once More, planted 300 Bald Cypress Trees on the Lake Apopka Preserve.

Have you been involved in any solar advocacy since becoming a solar owner?

We did a Solar Open House one year. I also judge at the Florida Solar Energy Center – Energy Olympics. There were over 800 students involved this year. An opportunity to share ideas with the next generation.

What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?

Participate in a solar co-op and learn about the process. Contact several reputable dealers, have at least three estimates and go with the best deal.