Habitat For Humanity

Ranking: No. 1

Percentage growth: 466.9%

A Seminole energy company has found success in tapping into social consciousness about the environment.

American Power and Gas, which provides green energy from non-fossil fuel based sources, has grown 466.9 percent in three years, making it the No. 1 company on the Fast 50 List for 2016.

The company has its roots in an earlier business, Consumers Sales Solutions, which serviced energy providers, before making a decision five years ago to become an energy firm itself, said Tom Cummins, CEO.

“We decided not to become another one of ‘those guys,’ but to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in our society,” Cummins said. “Our company is very purpose-driven. Our purpose is to get out there, one home at a time, one business at a time, and start switching society from a fossil fuel-based energy consumer to a natural one.”

Driving the decision was the deregulation of energy in several states, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio — all locations where American Power does business. The company is headquartered in Seminole, but does not do business in the Sunshine State because Florida’s energy industry remains regulated.

“It’s a tough business,” Cummins said.

“You are going up against something that’s been done for years, back to when Edison and Tesla were bringing power to the masses using fossil fuels and coal,” he said. While conventional energy firms have economies of scale, “We are the new kid on the block, using wind power or putting solar on the roof.”

The cost per kilowatt hour of alternative energy historically has been higher than conventional sources, but that’s changing, Cummins said.

“Because of companies likes ours, we’ve driven the cost of wind power and solar power down to one-third of what it was years ago,” he said.

For instance, a $100 bill from a conventional power firm might be $110 or $115 from American Power, but the American Power bill is at a guaranteed price and a fixed rate, Cummins said.

Cummins moved to the Tampa Bay area several years ago, after retiring at age 38 from the telecommunications industry, and said he found “an incredible pool of both employees and executives.”

About 180 of American Power and Gas’ 300 employees are employed locally, and many people on the executive team started in the company’s call center, Cummins said.

The biggest challenge, he said, is education. “We have to educate our staff, we have to educate the public. We’re at a point in the not-too-distant future when there will be a shift to get non-fossil fuel sustainable energy at the same price that you would pay for [conventional] fuel; who wouldn’t choose that?”