When Lynn Paige, CEO of PerfectPower in Phoenix, first joined the company six years ago she lacked a background in solar energy. But it didn’t take her long to see the light.
She was brought in to grow the company, which designs and installs solar energy systems, focusing primarily on Arizona.
“I quickly fell in love with the solar industry,” Paige says. “It’s been a six-year crash course.”
Paige, who has been a member of Valley Forward since 2005, brought an accounting degree, an MBA and some 30 years of business experience to PerfectPower. She established solid management systems, hired a professional sales team, facilitated an alliance with a professional training group and instituted strict guidelines for working with commercial and residential clients.
Although Arizona is the sunshine capital of the country, it’s also one of the nation’s heat capitals, which presents a bit of challenge for solar, as well as other energy industries.
“Heat de-rates a solar system, which means it produces less electricity than the same system would in, for example, Kansas City,” Paige says. “Our big goal at PerfectPower is to figure out a way to design a system around that heat factor that will produce more kilowatt hours than it would otherwise. We’ll be using the sun to do that.”
Yet another challenge is convincing consumers that solar energy is cost effective.
“People do not believe that solar is less expensive than producing electricity through nuclear or coal plants,” Paige says. “It pays for itself in a short time with federal and utility incentives and tax credits. There’s really no excuse today for anyone not to be using solar.”
For a commercial customer, solar would pay for itself in 18 months. For residential, depending on the size and type of system, the break-even point is three to seven years, Paige says.
“If you’re not using solar, at the end of seven years you’re still paying the utility company,” she says. “With solar, at the end of seven years you could have all of your energy for free. It’s a no-brainer. I’ve had solar at my home for three years and I have no energy bills. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. It’s kind of heady to be your own little power plant. It’s really a neat thing.”
What’s more, solar improves Arizona’s quality of life.
“It’s cleaner and it produces a steady line of electricity — no sporadic spikes,” Paige says.