Category: A1A News

A1A Solar

Hurricane Hero: A Short Story

Hurricane Hero: A Short Story

Huge hurricane near Florida in America. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

This time, the hurricane did not turn north.

Hurricane Hanna smashed into Northeast Florida packing 140 mph sustained winds, with the eye raking the coast from Ponte Vedra to Fernandina Beach.

Tina watched the news closely all week, as the storm bloomed from a category 1 to a category 4 in the warm waters of the Caribbean. The spaghetti models could not agree where landfall would be, even until the last day. She’d stocked up on food and water, and she knew that she’d be able to ride out the storm and the aftermath because she would have electricity, even if nobody else in her neighborhood did.

The wind howled and moaned like an enraged banshee and her house shook and groaned. Through the small window in her door, she watched the palm trees bend and twist in the pale light of the street lamp. Debris smacked and thudded into her house, as tree limbs, street signs, and yard furniture hurtled through the air. Transformers exploded down the street.

At 3:00 AM the street light went dark, along with the entire neighborhood.

Tina cheeked the Tesla App on her phone. The pair of Tesla Powerwalls were delivering power to her home, exactly as it was designed to do. If the lights even flickered, she did not notice. The Storm Watch software had automatically ensured that the battery would be charged to full capacity before the hurricane landed.

She watched the Weather Channel and fell back to sleep to the sound of wind and rain and thunder.

The next day, the feeder bands passed by and the scale of destruction began to emerge across the city. More than a million people without power. Storm surge flooding miles inland. Some areas would be without electricity for up to a month, as utility companies struggled to fix downed power lines and remove fallen trees.

Tina made herself a cup of coffee and scrambled some eggs, feeling grateful. She checked her Tesla app again, noticing that her solar array was powering her home and recharging her batteries. She had to smile.

The following day was blistering hot, temperatures in the mid nineties, and humid. Tina went for a walk in her neighborhood, picking her way carefully through streets choked with tree limbs and downed power lines. She made a point of checking on many of her friends and neighbors down the street.

Mrs. Wilson, who lived across the street, was a sweet, elderly lady with diabetes who kept an immaculate garden and made the best pecan pie in Florida. Tina stored her insulin for her so that it would not go bad, and put some of Mrs. Wilson’s food in her refrigerator, and she also invited her over for to sit in the air conditioning for a much needed respite from the heat.

Her neighbors on either side were parents with young children. Tina ran an extension cord to both houses so that her neighbors could run their fans to stay cool and so they could let their children play video games. She let people come over to charge their cell phones and tablets.

Tina made her freezer available to neighbors, and stored steaks, roasts, and an assortment of frozen foods for them, glad that she herself would not face the task of throwing out rotting meat and cleaning out her refrigerator.

A few of her neighbors had gas generators, but as the outage dragged on, their noisy generators fell silent because there was no gas to be had. These folks, too, came by Tina’s house for help, and she gladly gave it.

After three weeks, the power in the neighborhood finally came back on, but Tina only noticed because her neighbors came by to thank her and collect their food.

“God bless you,” Mrs. Wilson said, bringing over a fresh pie. “You may have saved my life.”

“I’m just glad I was able to help,” Tina replied.

From that day forward, whenever she walked her dog, people would smile and wave. They started calling her “The Hurricane Hero,” and Tina would just laugh, thinking that she hadn’t done anything anybody wouldn’t do.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Mrs. Wilson said. “You were the only one around here who was prepared; there wasn’t anybody else who could do what you did.”

That’s when Tina decided to leave a good review for A1A Solar, the team that had installed her solar + battery system.

Tesla Powerwall 2 & SunPower

SunPower & Tesla Powerwall 2

A1A Solar is now an authorized SunPower and Tesla Powerwall 2 installer

A1A Solar is pleased to offer SunPower, the world’s highest efficiency solar panels for residential and commercial installations. Founded in 1985, SunPower is a global leader in solar innovation; its solar panels consistently deliver more energy than its competitors. SunPower’s Maxeon cell technology allows for a higher wattage in each panel, resulting in rooftop solar arrays needing less roof space. 

A1A Solar customers who select SunPower are eligible for a 25-year warranty, with financing options available. SunPower solar panels have a 40-year life expectancy and the lowest degradation on the market. SunPower mounts its inverters directly onto the panels at the factory, instead of on-site.

A1A Solar is also an authorized installer for the Tesla Powerwall 2, the most advanced residential energy storage system in the world. The Powerwall 2 is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that stores energy. It’s great for home energy storage, and it also stores electricity for solar self-consumption, time-of-use load shifting, backup power, and off-the-grid use.

A1A Solar is a certified electrical contractor and will complete the entire installation process with no subcontractors.

A1A Solar & SunPower

A1A Solar & SunPower

The highest quality under the sun!

A1A Solar Contracting, Inc. is proud to announce that we are now official SunPower dealers. Why is this great news?

This is means that our customers get the highest rated panels on the planet, the best warranty, and the unparalleled quality of installation and customer service that A1A Solar provides. This is a winning combination, melding our years of expertise in the North florida marketplace with SunPower’s integrated 25 year warranty and the most efficient panels available anywhere.

  • Sunpower panels have a 40 year life expectancy, with the lowest degradation on the market.
  • Sunpower inverters are mounted directly onto the panels at the factory.
  • Higher wattage panels means less roof space is needed.
  • Easy financing
  • A1A Solar is a local business, veteran owned and operated.
  • A1A Solar uses only employees, no subcontractors.
  • Premier quality equals the best value over time.
sonnen battery

A1A Solar also installs battery back-up systems. The sonnenBatterie, the world’s leading battery back up system, is able to power your home when the grid goes down because the battery stores excess energy created by your solar array. The sonnenBatterie is lithium ion, and the iron phosphate chemistry means it is heavier and more robust than other batteries on the market. This workhorse comes with a ten year, ten thousand cycle warranty, and does not degrade nearly as fast as other battery back up systems.

A1A Solar now selling backup generators

A1A Solar now selling backup generators

Northeast Florida solar energy system installer now a Generac supplier

A1A Solar is pleased to announce its partnership with Generac as an official generator supplier for homes and businesses in Northeast Florida. A backup generator offers you peace of mind during a power outage and complements your solar energy system to ensure you’re never without power. Generac backup generators automatically deliver electricity during an outage and can power your entire home or just the most essential items. A1A Solar will install the generator directly and safely to your electrical system, so there’s no need for extension cords running out of your windows or doors.

Hurricane season is upon us and Florida residents and business owners know it’s critical to prepare for long-term power outages. A1A Solar installs your Generac backup generator permanently outside of your home, just like your central air conditioning unit. It runs off your natural gas or liquid propane supply, so you never have to worry about refueling (no more gas cans!). All Generac generators run a self-test that ensures they are ready to perform when needed. You can program your generator to perform the test weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Generac generators are significantly quieter than portable generators and can last as long as you need them. For additional peace of mind, you can purchase Mobile Link, a software tool that allows you to monitor your generator’s current operating status, maintenance schedule, and more directly from your smartphone.

A1A Solar offers several options of Generac emergency generators that are ideal for companies large and small. They provide reliable power to keep your business running during a crisis or weather event. No matter the industry, losing power means losing money. Our industrial power generators have cost-effective fueling options that ensure your company continues to operate during a power outage, no matter the length of the outage or the energy requirements. Generac generators are engineered for commercial and industrial-sized use with multimegawatt capacities.

Having a backup generator provides you with the security in knowing your family will be safe and comfortable in the event of a power outage.

A1A Solar has installed Florida’s largest rooftop solar array on IKEA

Leading solar company A1A Solar Contracting has installed 5,472 solar panels on the new IKEA store in Jacksonville, making it the largest rooftop solar array in Florida.

The project provides up to 50 percent of the building’s power consumption with 1.89 MW system, making it Florida’s largest non-utility private solar array. IKEA contracts with REC Solar who will design the system.

Pete Wilking, president and founder of A1A Solar, is confident his team will successfully finish the installation ahead of schedule. To work with IKEA, A1A Solar took part in a highly competitive bid process and went through multiple interviews and a vetting process to install the system.

“REC Solar has made a smart choice in selecting A1A Solar as the solar installer for the Jacksonville IKEA project,” Wilking said.“Choosing a local company means supporting Jacksonville’s economy and keeping jobs local.”

The rooftop will operate under a power purchase agreement with the Jacksonville Electric Authority. The 1.89 MW system will produce approximately 2,753,070 kWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2,133 tons yearly. JEA will add this array to its total solar energy portfolio, bringing it to a projected 50 MW by the end of 2017.

“We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment and contributing to a low-carbon society with solar atop our future Jacksonville store,” said Lars Petersson, IKEA U.S. president, in a written statement. “We have a mission to create a better everyday life for the many, and IKEA Jacksonville can add to this goal and keep us Florida’s largest non-utility private solar owner.”

A1A Solar, already a solar record-setter, installed the then-largest commercial solar rooftop in Jacksonville – 340 panels – for Champion brands, a local beverage distributor.

Commercial solar panel systems help business owners save on utility costs, reduce their carbon footprints, increase power independence and highlight their dedication to the environment. Keeping abreast of the growing solar industry and myriad technological advancements, A1A Solar offers custom options for solar panel systems.

Veteran-owned A1A Solar Contracting provides residential and commercial solar electric photovoltaic design and system installations for homes, businesses and governmental agencies in Florida and Georgia. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners has certified four of A1A Solar’s employees. Learn more about solar options at www.a1asolar.com.

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A1A Solar helps Champion Brands GO GREEN and save $763,000 in utility costs

Champion Brands and A1A Solar

A1A Solar helps Champion Brands GO GREEN and save $763,000 in utility costs

Champion Brands commissioned a large-scale custom solar photovoltaic system from A1A Solar that will save it $763,000 in utility costs over the system’s lifetime.

Champion Brands and A1A Solar
Jacksonville businessmen Earl Benton and Pete Wilking in front of Champion Brand’s solar array.

A1A Solar Contracting, with local offices at 10418 New Berlin Road, installed the solar panel system at Champion Brands’ headquarters facilities. Champion Brands is a premier beverage distributor serving Florida and Georgia customers and suppliers. This is one of its most recent among many environmentally friendly initiatives and investments.

The custom-made solar photovoltaic system includes 340 USA-made modules, which can produce a total of 115.8 kW, mounted onto the roof of the headquarters building. By contrast, the average solar-powered home has about 20 panels. Each of Champion Brands’ 340 solar panels have SolarEdge Inverters with Power Optimizers that increase energy output by tracking the maximum power point and reporting real-time performance.

“Practicing sustainability is one of our core values, and adding a solar panel system to our headquarters is one way to do it,” said Champion Brands CEO Earl Benton. “By reducing our carbon footprint and even our overall corporate utility cost, we can better serve our customers and give back to the communities in which we have facilities. This is something we’re looking at for our other locations as well.”

There will be an invitation-only ribbon cutting ceremony on May 30 to officially “flip the switch” at Champion Brands headquarters at 5571 Florida Mining Blvd. S. in Jacksonville.

By going solar, Champion Brands offsets its energy usage by 169,081 kilowatt-hours per year. To put that in perspective, the company has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions equivalent by 13,371 gallons of gasoline consumed per year. The environmental impact estimates are the equivalent of switching from 4,212 incandescent lights to LED bulbs.

“If 100 additional companies in greater Jacksonville area followed suit, we could reduce the ecological footprint of Jacksonville by 1,260 tons of CO2 emissions per year,” said Pete Wilking, president and founder of A1A Solar. “Champion Brands enlisted A1A Solar to assist in its corporate green initiatives and positively impact our community.”

Commercial solar panel systems help business owners save on utility costs, reduce their carbon footprints, increase power independence and highlight their dedication to the environment. Keeping abreast of the growing solar industry and myriad technological advancements, A1A Solar offers custom options for solar panel systems.

Orlando Solar panel Installer

Orlando Solar panel Installer

Are you interested in photovoltaic (PV) systems, solar electric and solar panels for your home? Perhaps you simply want to learn more about them. As a Central Florida resident living in the Sunshine State, the sun can be your home’s best friend.

A1A Solar Contracting is the Orlando, Florida, solar panel installer that you can turn to when you want to learn more about solar energy and how it can save you money. A1A Solar is owned and operated by Navy combat veteran, Pete Wilking, who is a NABCEP-certified PV solar contractor. A1A Solar specializes in the design and installation of PV systems in the Greater Orlando area.

A1A Solar Contracting is the Orlando, Florida, solar panel installer that you can turn to when you want to learn more about solar energy and how it can save you money. A1A Solar is owned and operated by Navy combat veteran, Pete Wilking, who is a NABCEP-certified PV solar contractor. A1A Solar specializes in the design and installation of PV systems in the Greater Orlando area.

Dedicated to serving you with quality, A1A Solar doesn’t use outsourced or sub-contractor work during installations – all work is completed by company employees to ensure the highest quality system. And the only solar contractor in the region with two NABCEP-certified installers.

We’re licensed and insured to install solar panels and the sonnenBatterie in the Orlando area, including Apopka, Casselberry, Deltona, Kissimmee, Longwood, Sanford, Winter Garden and Winter Park. In Central Florida, A1A Solar services Seminole County, Orange County and parts of Osceola County. We provide installations within a 40-mile radius from the heart of Orlando. A1A Solar is located in the center of the Sunshine State, not far from the Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld and Universal Studios Florida.

A1A Solar is pleased to be a Preferred Contractor for the Orlando Utilities Commission. As an OUC Preferred Contractor Network member, we’re dedicated to helping our customers take advantage of energy and water efficiency programs and incentives. Qualifying customers will receive rebates at the time of purchase.

What’s the big deal with having an EC license anyway?

What’s the big deal with having an EC license anyway?

We’ve had an amazing year this year, and would like to take a moment to tout our latest accomplishment! The latest in a string of victories, A1A is now a certified electrical contractor. This means that we are able to perform 100% of the work required to install your new solar array without sub-contracting any of the work. Unlike the vast majority of solar installers in our area, A1A Solar Contracting is both a certified electrical contractor and NABCEP certified!

Why this is important to you

Because we don’t have to use subcontractors, everyone who touches your home during your install will be an A1A Solar Contracting employee.  We hear horror stories from clients who elected to use other companies, and who later turn to us when the project goes sideways and they have issues that need fixing. We hear about faulty electrical work, leaking roofs, prolonged installs, and job-sites littered with cigarette-butts and profanity.

With A1A Solar Contracting, you will have a positive experience with our friendly, highly trained crews during your installation. Our employees are all rigorously vetted and adhere to the high standards of professional responsibility that owner Pete Wilking expects from everyone who wears the A1A shirt.

We are the only solar contactor in the region that’s able to boast an electrical contractor’s license. Not only does this elevate the level of professionalism we provide to our clients, it also eliminates the risk posed by sub-contractors when issues arise. We hear about companies that go out of business, and clients are left without recourse. With A1A Solar Contracting, that has never been, nor will ever be an issue. This means peace of mind for our clients. Solar is a long-term investment, and in many ways a partnership between the homeowner and the contractor. It’s vital to know that the company you are doing business with subscribes to the highest ethics and delivers excellence both during your install and in the ensuing years.

A Company on the Move!

  • Jacksonville Business Journal’s 50 fastest growing businesses
  • 2016 Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year for the state of Florida (Small Business Development Center)
  • AIFBY Chamber of Commerce Green Business of the Year 2013 & 2015
  • 2016 Best Places to Work, Jacksonville Business Journal
  • 78 out of 5 stars on Solar Reviews (www.solarreviews.com)
  • 2016 New office open in Orlando
  • Better Business Bureau Acredited Business (A+ Rating)
  • Region’s only certified solar company and electrical contractor
  • Serving large-scale commercial, government, and residential clients

Our happy clients are our best resource!

Solar Wars Jacksonville

 

Solar Wars Jacksonville

The Battle So Far…

As rooftop solar has grown in popularity throughout the JEA service area, the utility has grown increasingly adversarial to the solar industry. There is no sound reasoning behind this stance, and the arguments the utility makes to support its case are essentially smoke and mirrors. The bottom line is, they feel threatened by rooftop solar, and are fighting to maintain their monopoly on power in Jacksonville.

It shouldn’t be this way.

This month, the JEA board of directors will either approve or deny a proposal to crush the rooftop solar industry.  Their idea is to reduce the buy-back rate for grid-tied solar, wrecking the economics of solar for homeowners.  This would mean that rather than paying a fair rate for the electricity residents generate and sell back to the utility, homeowners will receive credit for only a fraction of what that power is worth.

David versus Goliath

JEA is a huge business, with 2015 revenues of 1.7 billion dollars. The coal-fired plant looms just off 295, and the smokestacks are visible from almost anywhere in Jacksonville. The fossil-fuel industry and public utilities are bedfellows; JEA uses coal for 50% of its energy production.

The utilities, JEA included, are waging a statewide war on solar power in the state of Florida. Their resources are vast and tactics underhanded.

A striking example is the recent Florida Supreme Court decision to place a ballot initiative which the utilities advocated. The utilities employed canvassers statewide to get people to sign a misleading petition in order to get an amendment onto the November ballot. What this will do is place regulatory authority for solar with the utilities, which is like giving the fox the keys to the henhouse.  The language of the amendment is deliberately misleading, making voters think they are supporting rooftop solar, when the truth is the opposite.

JEA is using its size and muscle to stomp on the solar industry in Jacksonville, hurting homeowners and the city itself.  They are behaving this way because they thought they could get away with it, sliding this current proposal in without the public at large being aware of it. Now, amidst public outcry and a flood of negative press, JEA is at least allowing for public input.  They have the opportunity to redeem themselves as a public-owned utility, and partner with, rather than fight the solar industry and consumers who would like the option to generate their own power.

What can I do? It’s easy!

  1. Attend the JEA workshop on solar Thursday, April 7 at 1pm at the JEA offices downtown. These proceedings will be open to the public.
  2. Vote NO on the amendment in November!
  3. Contact JEA and let them know how you feel at solar@Jea.com.
  4. Fill out this form and we’ll get you in touch with the board of directors at JEA

2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award

2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award2015 Angies list award

A1A Solar Contracting, Inc Earns Esteemed 2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

A1A Solar Contracting, Inc has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2015.

“Only about 5 percent of the companies in Jacksonville have performed so consistently well enough to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2015 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.