DEPCOM’s Founding team member and Senior Vice President of Operations & Maintenance, John Schroeder, details the power of a strong Operations & Maintenance program for utility solar asset owners and the latest expansion of services his team is offering to help restore, repower and recertify aging utility solar plants across America.
Q: What is DEPCOM’s O&M track record and what makes DEPCOM’s O&M services unique amongst the industry?
A: DEPCOM implements a sense of ownership and pride in every facet of business. From hiring the best in the industry to including customer specific written analysis in every O&M availability report, DEPCOM ensures that customers’ solar investments are in the best hands possible. Customers have access to O&M operators’ direct mobile numbers who are always within a 30-minute drive of their utility solar plant. These types of personal touches are what makes DEPCOM stand out in the industry, ensuring every site is at peak availability 24/7.
Since its founding, DEPCOM’s O&M business has grown in tandem with our EPC market share. Today DEPCOM is one of the top 10 O&M providers in the industry, operating 1.5 GW of utility solar plants across the USA, with a fleet availability record of 99.4%. 24/7 monitoring is conducted from DEPCOM’s state-of-the-art NERC/FERC certified control station located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Q: What trends in O&M do you foresee for the future?
A: DEPCOM sees a clear dichotomy in the O&M industry between scheduled low-cost preventative measures and high-cost emergency maintenance services. DEPCOM stays ahead of the curve to ensure customers are avoiding any unnecessary high-cost maintenance services by utilizing advanced technology and in-depth availability report monitoring.
One example of DEPCOM’s latest O&M service technology is thermal imaging drones and aerial photos. Thermal imaging saves customers time and money when inspecting modules and other equipment for electrical hot spots. Aerial photo imaging technology monitors erosion and vegetation growth on site which gives DEPCOM O&M operators the ability to catch any issues early on before they become a costly maintenance problem.
Q: DEPCOM expanded its O&M capabilities to launch 3R, focused on restoration, repowering and recertification services. What type of results have these services generated for utility solar asset owners?
A: DEPCOM launched the 3R initiative to service a growing demand in the industry amongst aging utility solar plants. With the fast paced and dynamic solar industry, plants built 10 years ago have equipment that are approaching their warranty expiration dates and technology from vendors no longer manufacturing certain components. DEPCOM’s expert maintenance teams and broad relationships with vetted, tier 1 equipment providers, enables DEPCOM to provide energy optimization and equipment maintenance at a cost-effective service rate. Whether a plant faces equipment failures, natural disasters, or normal wear and tear, DEPCOM’s expert teams restore these plants into peak condition. Serving this area of industry growth gives our current customer and third-party solar asset owners a broader sense of security in their solar investments.
Q: How is DEPCOM preparing to serve the market growth?
A: DEPCOM is stepping up to serve the O&M market in the same way DEPCOM prepares for any other market sector growth, by hiring knowledgeable and hardworking industry experts to ensure that DEPCOM’s nationwide team is top tier. This culture of team building allows DEPCOM to easily scale up regional efforts when the market grows across the country. Utilizing scalable process and scalable technologies has proven to be successful with DEPCOM seeing 100% growth year over year since the O&M inception.