Santa Rosa County is on the cutting edge of solar technology, according to Vice President of Business Development of Compass Solar  Dan Gardner.  Gardner says 60 to 70% of the company's business is within the boundaries of Santa Rosa County.  Compass Solar has sold solar systems throughout the country, being a federal, state, commercial and residential solar contractor.

He says in the beginning of his dive into solar energy, the cost of putting in a solar energy system was substantial.  However, recent changes in competition and consumer interest brought the cost to more reasonable measures. 

"Financing the cost over 20 to 30 years would bring your kilowatt hour to 5ȼ," he says. 

As more people go solar, the community could have a lower cost of living.  "As more people become interested, the cost has come down dramatically.  A solar electric systems photovoltaic (PV) residential system installed two years ago cost $27,000.  This year the same system installed cost $16,000," he says.  He explains his residential customers are not "getting off the grid" completely.  Only people in extreme, remote areas do that, he says, but people with the solar system installed in their homes are still connected to the grid, but if the grid fails, you can utilize your system as a generator. 

It will provide continuous power with a battery back up, even at night. 

While the grid is still working, he says, the solar PV system will provide power to minimize your  bill from the electric company or have a credit applied to your bill.

Santa Rosa County is rapidly moving toward being a green county, he explains. 

Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jim Melvin says he's encouraged to hear more county residents are moving toward green technology.  He says he is looking at green technology for the county and is very interested in changing over to energy efficiency.

Gardner continues to say most of the work they've performed in the county is residential work, including solar electric systems photovoltaic (PV), solar pool heaters, solar water heaters and solar attic fans.  Gardner says the county should be proud of what they're doing, getting involved and bringing the county towards an environmentally conscious community. 

Gardner says Compass will be traveling in February to the Dominican Republic after being selected as one of 35 Florida companies to join Governor Rick Scott on an Enterprise Florida TEAM Florida trade mission to Santo Domingo. He says because energy prices are high throughout the Caribbean, solar energy is a great opportunity. 

"Mini grids are like small solar farms.  When an island country installs a mini grid the government will not have to pay the large amount of cost to set up a utility plant," says Gardner.  He continues to say a $100 electric bill here with traditional electricity would be a $300 bill in an island country.