A fast-growing local business says that if the JEA board approves the proposed SolarSmart policy on April 19, it will mean pulling the plug on the company’s growth potential and, ultimately, livelihood. The United States Small Business Administration named A1A Solar Contracting’s CEO, Pete Wilking, the 2016 Florida Veteran-Owned Small-Business Person of the Year.
Wilking, a U.S. Navy Persian Gulf War veteran, founded A1A Solar Contracting in 2010 after noting a demand for a highly qualified company to design and install solar panels on residential and commercial buildings in Northeast Florida.
His solar business, along with many other small businesses, will incur damage and be forced to lay off staff if the changes are approved by the JEA board of directors. The need Wilking once recognized will disappear and JEA will monopolize the solar industry.
“The SolarSmart policies could put my company out of business, along with many other local companies,” Wilking said. “That could mean hundreds of local jobs lost. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and our country. These changes are crushing rooftop solar.”
The SolarSmart changes, if approved, will decrease the rate that JEA pays customers when purchasing the excess solar power their rooftop panels generate. This would make customer-owned solar panels economically less appealing. Additionally, JEA’s power grid would generate solar power and wire it directly to homes, which would make rooftop panels unnecessary. The board of directors is scheduled to vote on these drastic changes on April 19.
Wilking and many other opponents of the proposed SolarSmart changes speak out against JEA in an effort to forestall the negative effects their businesses and employees could face; they encourage the public to take action. JEA says it is listening and asks concerned citizens to voice their concerns directly to JEA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SBA will recognize Wilking and all other 2016 winners at the Annual Small Business Week & Lender Awards Celebration on May 5, 2016, at the University of North Florida’s University Center from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. The Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida will host the event.