Solar power guru Anthony Prall takes island one roof at a time

POSTED: 02/5/13 12:29 PM

GREAT BAY – Solar power is coming to St. Maarten – finally. At the forefront of this development is the Caribbean energy store of Anthony Prall Jr. this is his story.

Solar powering St. Maarten one roof at a time is Prall’s long term goal. Prall, who has lived in St. Maarten for thirteen years, is a semi-retired electrical engineer. “I have been attracted to electronics and electricity since I was eight years old. I have photos of my hands taking apart the TV set and wiring it in my parents’ home.   In 2006 I started with alternative energy in Guana Bay.  I went to the building department and asked if I needed a permit to install two residential wind turbines. They had no idea what I was talking about and told me that at that time no permit was necessary.”

Prall ordered and constructed two residential wind turbines at a cost of $16,000 high up on his property. The turbines had a capacity of 2 kilowatts each.  “I was excited about the possibility of no more electricity bill,” he says. “Turbine manufacturer Southwest Wind Power told me about the power I was going to get.  It was mostly a big exaggeration on their part just to sell their product.  They told me that with a 12 mph wind speed I would get 400 Kwh per month from each of these turbines.

“Now some of us know that the wind does not always blow here on the east side of the island.  Some times its lower and very few days are above 20mph.   So that’s why my family and I decided to put solar panels on our roof to add to our monthly kilowatt hour production.”

After 6 months of carefully monitoring how much power the wind turbines produced a 600 Kwh the best Prall could see was that he would need at least another 1000 Kwh a month just to run the 3 airco units at night alone.  Airco is the highest user of energy in a home or business.

Prall ordered from a Miami company a complete 5.2 Kwh system of 28 evergreen American made panels with Zantrax 5000 watt Grid tie inverter.  After paying $30,000 for the equipment plus $900 shipping fees he felt he was finally going to get rid of his electricity bill. It cost over $8 per watt including installation at that time in 2006.  After installation and running both systems the electricity bill did drop to less than $30 dollar each month.

“My family and I loved the way the systems were running.  I personally decided to get into a solar energy business here in the Caribbean.  First came the www.sxmwindpower.com  web site as an educational tool to teach others how to do it.  Then came www.caribbeanenergystore.com web site all across the entire Caribbean.   Business started off slow but after a while it grew.”

Prall says he feel lucky to have an energy minister in St. Maarten in the person of Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin.   “In March of 2012 he had me come by for a meeting with him.  At this meeting he told me he was interested in having the new government sponsor the Philipsburg library Solar Project of a 48 panel LG roof mount system with a 10 kW 3 phase inverter with monitor and complete package to include my ability to teach the public in the library on a monthly basis.   I really got excited because I truly love to see others make use of the power of the sun here in the Caribbean.”

In most cases the average Home or Business here in St. Maarten receives 5.5 to 6.0 hours daily of peak sun light, Prall says.  “So far my company the Caribbean Energy Store has done over 130 residential solar installations and 25 business installations – at today’s low price of under $ 3 per watt for the equipment and complete certified installation.  Many private homes and business call for our professional services.  Blue Point was one of the first.”

Lees Road Side Grill in Simpson Bay followed as did other small businesses that soon saw that they too could cut their electric bill sometimes in half.

But Prall encountered some stumbling blocks: “I learned quickly that buying from a Miami or USA Solar Direct company was not the best way to get solar supplies at the best price.  I made a deal with a company in Korea called LG that has been making electronics for over 50 Years.  They have a great panel with a 25 year warranty. “

The Caribbean energy store now also does business with the German inverter company SMA that offers a standard ten year warranty on its inverters.  Prall visited the company for what he calls “a great deal of factory training.”  Prall’s company is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

 The Caribbean Energy Store has an on island stock of over 2000 LG solar panels in 8 different sizes, to suit almost every type of solar installation.  “With our high efficiency 245W panels, you can have a complete system installed in your house in days. All our systems use the strongest and most weather resistant mounting hardware, and can be easily removed in case of hurricanes,” Prall says.

He announced that the first solar energy project sponsored and paid for by the St. Maarten Government – at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library – will start this week. It will be completely installed in 7 days or so, depending on the company’s installation schedule.  “Then I will be looking for any person or family in St. Maarten that is interested to learning about or installing solar power on their home our business. Every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Philipsburg Jubilee Library lobby,” Prall concludes.

 

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Comments (2)

 

  1. Michael says:

    Did he mention his past?

    Google him with the words fraud and judgement.

  2. Philippe says:

    Sure…..

    Process seems professional,works with local Government
    plenty new projects

    We ‘ve bought 25 solar panels,two inverters in April 2015
    After three months we ‘ve received only two inverters
    and no news

    We ‘ve the right to go to the court

    Don’t send money before to see the products in your villa
    and choose an other company

    and read Anthony Prall fraud and Judgement on internet