• Alison Brown

Flux’s Fables: Why hire us to draw your site plan?

Eventually every distributed energy project will need a site plan. To limit early-stage capital expenditures, many developers delay hiring engineering consultants until a project is fully financed and land deals are signed. This method certainly reduces the chance that the developer will spend money on a project that doesn’t move forward, but we’ve seen small mistakes cascade into very costly errors.

Early engagement of engineers prevents project pitfalls!

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When 1/8” costs $20,000

Recently, one of our Project Managers got a call from the Site Superintendent announcing that they had successfully landed the first of fifteen battery packs on a behind-the-meter Battery Energy Storage System! A few hours later, our Project Manager got another call because the second battery pack would not fit — the dimensions were off by about ¼”. The Site Superintendent predicted that the third pack would be off by ½”, the fourth by ¾”, and so on.

Our Project Manager reviewed the project drawings against the battery pack specification and saw that the sales engineer had not incorporated the 1/8” roof flange in the original sales layout, and the GC’s designer had not confirmed the exact product dimensions before completing the construction drawings. As a result, the Design-Build Contractor lost $20,000 in demolishing and re-pouring part of the pad, double handling the batteries, and overtime to prevent schedule delays.

Precision matters. Especially at first.

It’s been 8 months, and our project is STILL NOT DONE

One of our clients called our engineering team because their Electric Vehicle Charging Station was STILL NOT DONE. It had been eight months, and the local inspector would just not sign off on the electrical permit. Our client wanted us to review the installation and documentation, put together a complete permit set, and close out the project. We reviewed the existing documentation and found that the contractor had built the system based on a hand-drawn sketch. The scope of work was so small, the AHJ had not reviewed the submitted documents. The system was missing an electric meter, the conduit size was too small, the electric panel was undersized, and the installation quality was atrocious.

We ended up recommending that the contractor remove a third of the charging stations and clean up the installation. Within a few months the installation was approved, and rebate payments were pending.

Ideas are good, but Execution is better.

The Sales Engineer and the Fire Code

After a long bidding cycle, followed by a challenging grant application, our client finally won their first commercial solar plus storage project. Thrilled, they hired us to design the project. Upon review, our Design Engineer immediately noticed that the Sales Engineer had mistakenly used residential fire setbacks on the commercial project, so the project size would have to shrink by 10%. If we had been engaged earlier on the project to prevent these errors, the sales team could have sold a constructable project.

It is easy to propose impossible remedies.

Flux and the Survey Coordinates

Once upon a time, right before a Friday due date for a permit application submittal, our Design Engineer realized we had made a systematic error in the layout of 7,412 solar modules. The proposed design would not work. The Project Manager apologetically called our client and explained the situation. She requested a weekend extension and outlined our plan to correct the mistake. Our client gave us a second chance, so our engineers worked all weekend. The Assistant Project Manager brought them coffee and treats to keep morale up. The QA/QC team pulled all nighters to review the work between design shifts, and we got it done.

Hire Flux. Even if we make a mistake, we’ll do whatever it takes to fix it.

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