In our modern go-go world, we, as a species, can be very short-sighted. We are always trying to get bigger, grow stronger, go further. But, at what cost? These are the types of questions you’re left asking yourself after sitting down with TreeTop Solar Inc owner Stephen Vezina. Believe it or not, what started as a childhood curiosity has transformed into a career path for Stephen, and he sat down with Spotlight on Business Magazine to talk about sustainable energy, and his hopes for the future of his business, an industry but more importantly of the planet!
Stephen is in every way, the quintessential east coaster; kind, friendly and personable, he is an open book, and more than willing to share exactly where his interest in green renewable energy stems from. Everything began many years ago at his family cottage on Lake Charlotte that’s completely off grid, you literally can only take a boat to get there. Stephen’s family started with a small little, do it yourself solar set up and quickly realized that type of set up wasn’t going to work. Stephen was determined to create an off-grid system that would allow his parents to run whatever they wanted at the cabin. “So more or less out of necessity, I started to learn how renewable energy worked, and quickly realized that I could run most things with energy provided from off the grid. Those early self-taught lessons and experience have translated to my current career, giving me the understanding behind the technology and just how everything works together.” As Stephen researched and developed a little off grid system at the cabin, he began to see a real future for himself offering solar set up for others.
However, that future wouldn’t be realized for many years to come. Believe it or not, Stephen started his career working in the offshore oil and gas industry as an underwater robotics technician. After several years in the field, it was clear that industry was not filling his cup. He did not feel as if his work was truly positively impacting people and the planet. Stephen goes on to say, “I’m obviously not involved in mining the raw minerals from the earth that make solar panels, but I understand the process, and that it’s far less intrusive than it is to extract oil from below the ocean and that is why we need to transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy, which is a more economical and environmental energy source.”
So, with that, Stephen made a 180-degree career pivot, and started his work in green energy. He wanted to be a part of that path, to not only make a longer healthier career for himself but make a healthier longer life for the planet. “Our needs and our demands for energy keep growing, but we don’t seem to be accounting for how those needs are going to be met now and in the future.”
TreeTop Solar officially launched in early 2021, and even with the COVID pandemic looming over the industry and the business during the entire start up they have continued to be in high demand from the first day they opened their doors. One of the pillars of TreeTop Solar’s business model is that they only offer top quality products for their customers. Another pillar is very strict safety standards with the use of safety policies and equipment. “If something is not safe, you don’t do it until you find a way to do it safe.” Stephen goes on to say, “it would be very easy to send a few people up on a roof to slap some solar panels down. But if you can’t be sure that the equipment and installation process are safe for the people installing them, the surrounding environment, and the structure, there is no point in doing it. We want to make sure that we are installing quality products that are going to last, and are going to be safe most importantly, because this is going on your home that you live in.
As business continues to boom, Stephen is realizing it’s time to expand his team. Over this summer, he is going to be looking for two new installers, especially as demand for solar energy continues to increase. If you’re interested in joining the TreeTop Solar team, Stephen wants you to know, its important to him that members of his team are able to feel comfortable while they work. There are always times on the job that are pressure packed, but he’ll make sure you go out prepared for the task ahead, with everything you need to know to get the job done right and safely.
One of the most exciting parts of a career in solar energy is how quickly the technology is advancing and growing. Stephen describes how much has changed in the business, even in the past 5 years. “We only use the best and safest technology. We currently are using all Enphase products, the world’s leading micro inverter manufacturer, which are made in the US. They’ve been known to be one of the best, if not the best, micro inverter in the world.” And if you are reading this and are in the market for a solar system but don’t know what a microinverter is or does, don’t worry, Stephen and the team at TreeTop Solar make sure that every customer or potential customer will understand exactly what’s going to happen, how the equipment works and what they can expect, when they choose to install their residential solar with them.
And don’t forget, you don’t have to move your entire home off grid to work with TreeTop Solar. Grid-tied residential systems are the most popular type of system TreeTop installs, but Stephen says many of their clients also have an interest in using solar stored in batteries as a backup, especially rural clients, who so often have to deal with sporadic coverage and outages, when the unpredictable Nova Scotia weather can cause problems with the power grid. “We are actually seeing a lot more interest in not so much fully off grid, but battery backups for your home.” These backup batteries are a great option for many people, and something Stephen and the team can teach you all about them and can even integrate a battery backup into your current system.
Stephen is proud to run a truly local and self-made business. From system selections, planning to installation and down the road maintenance, from start to finish, you are working with TreeTop Solar. Not having to work with a sub-contractor puts many of their customer’s minds at ease and allows Stephen and the team to get to know all of their clients and their specific needs. It is gratifying to log-on to the remote system monitoring TreeTop Solar uses and see that our systems are up and running and producing energy for our happy customers.
So, what does the future hold for TreeTop Solar Inc? Stephen hopes to continue to grow his business and work with more and more Nova Scotians looking to make their green energy goals become realities. He is looking forward to more battery back-up installations, and says he is extremely interested in exploring commercial projects. With such an exciting, growing industry, there are always new technologies to be researched, and products to explore. He hopes that new incentives come to fruition for potential clients and is excited to see what the province’s recent commitment to grow the solar industry will look like in practice. 2022 has already brought big announcements and changes for solar in Nova Scotia, and TreeTop Solar Inc is here to watch and help this industry flourish and grow.
It’s not hard to see the bright future TreeTop Solar Inc has ahead, and Stephen is an amazing advocate for renewable green energy. He has a special gift, the gift of being extremely knowledgeable and at the same time, is able to make his knowledge accessible to the average person. Many concepts (that might go over most of our heads) he brings out of the trees and down to earth, sharing what he knows…and making us all wiser for it.
by Allison McKinnon