Imagine this. You are hired as an intern for a local government agency and tasked with creating an inventory of their solar and battery systems. As you are developing your list, you arrive at one of the solar sites, and find that the inverter for the system is off. Upon further investigation, you find that this outage goes back, not hours, not days, not months, but years!
I recently met with a representative from a California public agency that experienced this unfortunate yet preventable event. They recently discovered that one of their solar energy systems had been down for three years. For three years, this agency had been paying increased utility energy bills, losing thousands in what would have been avoided energy costs.
How does something like this happen? At many public and private agencies, we find there are common trends that increase the risks of these types of losses:
Personnel Transitions – In their 2016 report1 on employee tenure, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average tenure for employees was less than 5 years. This means that over the 30 year life cycle of a solar asset, at least 6 different people will have the responsibility of managing the system. Often, important details and best practices in managing these systems get lost in these transitions.
Communication and Visibility Struggles Across Departments – The accounts payable department is receiving and paying the utility bills. Facility directors at individual sites carry the responsibility of ensuring these systems are operating. And yet another staff member in the sustainability department is tasked with managing the energy use and costs for the organization. Unless these staff and departments prioritize communication, visibility of performance is poor. And this creates the opportunity for an energy system to underperform, inflated energy bills to get paid, and for no one to be alerted to the problem.
Time Constraints – As tight as budgets can be, in many cases, the most limited and scarce of resources for teams is time. Most teams are faced with an ever growing and evolving list of priorities. Monitoring and regularly evaluating the performance of solar and battery systems often cannot compete with the higher priority items on the list.
At TerraVerde Energy, our Asset Management team partners with public & private sector clients to ensure that they realize the maximum financial benefit from their energy systems. Our dedicated, experienced team actively monitors a fleet of solar and battery systems daily, responding to reactive maintenance needs, managing preventive maintenance schedules, and providing regular performance reports to our clients. We optimize the performance and management of these systems so that you can realize maximum savings with the minimum amount of time and resource investment.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employee Tenure in 2016” bls.gov. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf (accessed July 11, 2018).