The Power Revolution with aTec
- September 30th, 2015
- in PROPERTY
*** This is the first in a three-part series. Look out for PART 2 in February’s 2016 issue
Photography by Dana Miller, Sean Hartley, and Brian Graziola – aTec
You may not be aware, but there is really good news about power resources in the BVI – good news, and greater news.
The good news is that the BVI is in the perfect geographical location for using renewable energy sources – the inevitable future power supply of our entire world; the great news is our islands already have a company spearheading the transition to this foreseeable power source.
A locally owned business with employees native to the Territory, aTec has a clear vision to “facilitate the transition to renewable energy systems in the BVI and the wider Caribbean region,” as professed by Managing Director Dana Miller.
Born in the BVI, Dana is renowned in the community for his caring ideology regarding the islands’ future, specifically in the area of energy consumption. Standing at the peak of his expertise and always seeking to further evolve his profession, his experience traverses residential, commercial, and government projects in renewable energy servicing.
A BVI licensed electrician, Dana began his career in 2007 in Colorado and holds a North American Board Certification as Solar Electric installation professional – the NABCEP certification is known as the ‘gold standard’ in this industry.
Channelling his enthusiastic attitude to his team as any inspiring leader does, aTec are conscious of working in an industry that is at the forefront of the world’s future with their team of electricians, communication specialists, masons, metal workers, carpenters, and roofers.
“We are training our team in world-class installation techniques and safety standards,” said Dana of his team. “As the industry grows over the next few years, we hope to groom them into sales people, project managers, crew leaders, and installers who can then train others.”
Intent on building the BVI’s own skilled workforce in renewable energy power, Dana’s nurture over the country extends to foresight over the BVI economy. “This is important to the BVI because it is far too easy to let the economic gains from the renewable energy industry be lost to foreign companies and foreign investors,” he said. “It is well within our reach to create a skilled workforce locally maintaining the financial prosperity in the BVI.”
aTec has vast experience working with worldwide industry leading companies like NRG, Solar City, Sunora Energy, Princeton Power, and Lumos Solar. It functions as a cloud-based, paperless company with modern just-in-time installation practises which enables aTec to maintain low overheads.
This helps them to keep their costs minimal and pass these savings on to their clients through amicably rated services.
New Technologies in Renewable Energy
Working with solar, wind, battery, and fossil fuel technologies with the possibility of integrating them in the most cost effective manner, aTec are pioneers, seeking an easy framework to be applied for residential and commercial renewable energy licenses.
“There are many parameters still to be decided,” said Dana of the BVI legislation that is gradually opening up to the world of renewable energy. “Stability in the industry will require managed growth and properly qualified renewable energy contractors. At the moment there is still no clear application process for Net Metering [a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid], or Green Energy Licenses. For the time being, it still makes financial sense to invest in solar powered backup power for your home or business.”
A huge attraction for renewable energy consumers, has always been the money savings. “Traditional power sources (fossil fuels) are fast becoming an outdated technology for backup power,” Dana commented. “The ongoing maintenance requirements…make them a far more costly investment in the long run than renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources of energy are clean, quiet, and low cost to maintain.”
The aTec Managing Director explained that when an individual purchases a solar electric system to produce primary or secondary power, they are locking in their cost of electricity for the next 25 years and avoiding rising fossil fuel costs.
“An investment in renewable energy also increases the re-sale value of your home,” said Dana. “It is estimated that in California a homeowner would add 30 cents to the value of her home for every dollar spent on a renewable energy system. So if this is the case you can immediately subtract 30% from your upfront cost when installing a renewable energy system in calculating your payback period.”
aTec uses the most modern technologies like lithium-ion batteries with long life spans that are almost maintenance free, warrantied for sea-side locations, and designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. The company is also able to set up remote monitoring for solar, wind or generator systems. “These online monitoring systems help clients keep track of system performance from any internet device while notifying us of any maintenance requirements. “
aTec also has access to all the outlying islands, “Our fast, efficient fleet of vessels gives us the fastest response time to even the most remote parts of the BVI,” added Dana with regard to their esteemed service.
Island Grid Opportunities in the BVI
“The members of our company have been involved in the design, installation, and maintenance of all of the island-grid systems currently in operation in the BVI,” said Dana, impressing the immense scope of experience and influence his company has on the industry and BVI in its entirety. “These include Cooper Island, Peter Island, islands in the North Sound, and Oil Nut Bay. We continue to work to expand, improve, and maintain these systems. These are all the largest renewable energy systems in the BVI.”
With an extensive range of projects already completed, the residential field has witnessed their success in solar electric jobs in the US which reduce the resident’s electricity bill to zero. “Of course this requires the use of a Net Meter – a change I expect we will see very soon in the BVI,” said Dana with optimism. “Residential systems in the BVI are restricted to act as secondary power sources. We create backup power with the most advanced battery technologies in lead-acid, lithium-ion and aqueous-hybrid battery types. “
The most modern systems are almost completely maintenance free, providing power when the utility goes out that is silent and clean. These families can rest assured that they will have power without any noise or air pollution and can plan for their battery replacement well in advance.
On the commercial front, aTec have been involved with large scale island-grids; the largest of which was 1232 solar panels with a rated power output of 369.6 KW. “This system will eventually integrate solar, wind, battery and diesel generator,” said Dana. “It will reduce the dependence on diesel generator to the occasional generator exercise.”
Another example aTec has in its portfolio, is an island grid that has been completed integrating 93.72 KW solar electric with a 400 kWHr Tesla Power Pack battery. The solar power in this system provides all the power the island needs on a daily basis. “The result is that the island is liberated from its use of fossil fuels and over time the savings from these fossil fuels reductions will pay off the upfront cost of the solar electric/ battery system – from that point on the islands energy will be free and provided for by the sun,” said the aTec Managing Director.
As Dana concluded, this industry is still new to the BVI but simultaneously, it’s paralleling the speed at which technological advances move today. “We will continue to stay at the forefront of all these technologies,” said the BVI innovator as a promise to assist the Territory’s development and keep the high standards of aTec’s service to potential and current clients.