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Profile: Alternate Energy Technologies in Northeast Florida

Demand for solar equipment has brightened fortunes for northeast Florida's Alternative Energy Technologies, which manufactures the solar thermal flat plates used in residential and commercial hot-water heaters.

The largest solar-thermal manufacturer in the nation, AET moved in May from Jacksonville's Westside to a larger, new manufacturing plant in Green Cove Springs. The company has been in business since 1975, but it was relatively quiet until 2006, when interest began to heat up first after the return of solar tax credits, then with the federal stimulus package. The number of AET solar thermal dealers and distributors has increased from 35 in 1999 to more than 400 now.

Managing partner Billy Byrom expects steady growth to continue with increased awareness of solar thermal across the nation and incentives available in many states. He currently employs 60 and expects to double that number over the next three years.