About Vegas Electric
Installing Independent Power Generation and Distribution Systems
Vegas Electric (VE) was founded in 1987 by Charles George, an electrical contractor from the United States. The first VE project involved the installation of a custom-fabricated generator switchgear for a seafood processing plant. This initial project was followed by the design and installation of an electrical distribution system, a power generation plant, and switchgear for a supermarket. Prior to 1992, there was no utility grid on Roatan, individually-owned power generating systems provided energy for each facility. Building on these initial contracts, Vegas Electric grew by training and employing additional personnel to meet the growing demand for quality electrical contracting services. VE soon became recognized as the leading electrical contractor based on the Bay Islands.
Responding to market demand, VE initially focused on designing and installing commercial and industrial electrical systems. These facilities were typically served by a proprietary micro-grid with self-contained generation as the sole energy source; and notably, many of these installations are still in use as prime or stand-by power generation sources. This history highlights our extensive experience and recognized expertise that underscores VE’s proficiency in designing, installing, and operating an autonomous power generation facility with the associated distribution, control, and monitoring systems.
Although primarily engaged in electrical contracting work, in 1993 VE began to install small off-grid renewable energy systems that included solar PV, small wind generation, and solar direct water pumping. Through the 1990’s our business model remained basically unchanged, with renewable energy (RE) related work (primarily off-grid residential) accounting for less than 10% of overall business revenue. However, it was during this time that we began preparing VE to effectively respond to the growing market demand for RE related services by forming working partnerships with established equipment suppliers as well as initiating training programs for supervisory & technical personnel.
The period between 2000 to 2008 was characterized by substantial growth and economic development on Roatan; at the same time energy costs began to escalate while grid stability and reliability deteriorated. These conditions prompted many consumers to begin considering alternatives to sole dependence on the utility grid, creating opportunities for demonstrating the viability of renewable energy solutions. Vegas Electric seized this opportunity and began a focused effort to develop the skills and competencies needed to establish VE as the preeminent provider of RE design and installation services. Among other successes, this effort was marked by certification of our design engineer as the first NABCEP installation professional in Central America. In addition to these training efforts, we continued to solidify and expanded supplier relationships to strengthen our warranty service and customer support capabilities. During this period, we consolidated our efforts and began seeking to bolster our operational capabilities. With demonstrated proficiencies as an EPC and a solid foundation in RE technologies, we were highly motivated to embrace opportunities offered by the developing market for our renewable energy related services. As a small business growing opportunistically on the islands, through 2008, our efforts had resulted in improved market penetration and a substantial increase in revenue from RE related projects.
Embracing Renewable Energy Market Opportunities
Solidifying Technical Skills and Operational Competencies
Throughout this time, VE continued to better understand customer priorities and we recognized that there were significant differences in project requirements, with each requiring a customized approach. We realized that while many regarded solar energy generation as a means of reducing energy costs, others were also seeking to address issues related to reliability and power quality. As a result, we began to offer customized solar PV solutions with the design parameters driven by project demands which typically were focused on ensuring continuity of service and reducing usage of conventionally generated energy. In support of this effort to provide customized solutions, VE developed a pre-project evaluation process designed to determine a baseline of operational characteristics (energy usage, load profile, etc.) of the installation as well as to identify the client’s goals and expectations. We now consider this evaluation process to be an indispensable component when developing an economically viable project and as such, we are committed to continually streamlining the procedure to improve the accuracy of the resulting data and enhance the efficiency of our work. Recognizing that the growth and development of a sustainable RE business model required a deeper understanding of our market, we began exploring ways to more effectively respond to existing market openings as well as to expand product offerings and create new market opportunities. Taking a proactive approach to expanding our market reach and product offerings, in 2008 a team from VE successfully completed the XZERES Wind advanced dealer training program with VE becoming the only authorized dealer in this region qualified to specify, install, and service residential and commercial wind generation systems. Additionally, in 2011 VE’s applications engineer attended training at the Sun Pumps manufacturing facility, qualifying VE as an authorized dealer qualified to specify, install, and service Sun Pumps products. With expertise in two additional technologies and an expanded line of product offerings, we continued to move forward by developing new markets and enhancing our revenue stream.
Developing a Holistic Approach that Integrates Energy Efficiency
Until this time, VE had focused solely on designing and installing systems employing renewable energy technologies. As we became more adept at analyzing the data obtained from the pre-project evaluation, we began to recognize the importance of quantifying energy usage of specific equipment. Our evaluation process was modified to accurately determine the power requirements and energy usage of all installed equipment and we began to fully appreciate value of integrating this data into our project designs. As such, we began to include an energy efficiency (EE) component into our offerings and we now employ a comprehensive and inclusive approach when evaluating a potential project, with EE strategies fundamental to designing a cost-effective integrated energy solution. We understand that by offering our customers a fully integrated energy solution that includes EE and RE components, we will maximize their economic return.