By Alissa Jean Schafer, solar communications and policy manager for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Whether installing panels, giving a demonstration to a school or volunteering on solar policy campaigns, Raul Vergara, president of Cutler Bay Solar Solutions, is helping the Sunshine State of Florida live up to its name. I first met Raul over two years ago while working on a Floridians for Solar Choice campaign and was immediately struck by his quiet determination to do his part.
Living in Florida means dealing with a special set of issues: a high cost of living, scorching temperatures with accompanying air conditioning bills and vulnerability to the effects of climate change such as extreme tropical storms, sea level rise and “sunny day flooding.” Florida has also been a center for solar policy battles over the last several years, with the monopoly utilities spending millions on campaigns designed to control and limit rooftop solar. Despite the state having the highest PV potential east of the Mississippi and approximately 20 million residents, there are still fewer than 16,000 residential solar installations in the state and a high number of people who don’t fully understand the benefits and accessibility of solar energy for their homes and businesses. That’s where Raul comes in.
Raul explains rooftop solar as a solution, going above and beyond to make solar information accessible to the community. He works tirelessly to educate neighbors, schools and even local governments about the benefits of rooftop solar, both as a means to save money and as a source of clean power. Realizing that some people learn best by experiencing, Raul built a mini house with a fully functional solar system on its roof that he tows around to community events. Recently, the solar house even powered a local concert and a city press conference!
In an age when it is all too easy to get caught up in the busy day-to-day demands of running a business, Raul has stepped up as a leader willing to educate, volunteer and do whatever it takes to move forward on solar. And we’re all better off because of his efforts. Thanks, Raul!