Seamless commercial and business energy solutions – PowerPulse

Homeowners, as well as businesses’ appetites for alternative energy solutions are increasing, especially given the country’s challenges with load shedding. Founder of BizNews Alec Hogg joins Maudene van Rooyen, Errol Dorman and Mike Cubic, members of Dorman Projects, to unpack the PowerPulse alternative energy solutions. Some of the benefits of the PowerPulse offering include: seamless guidance throughout your projects, support with funding, legal and technical help, credible installation and reduced time spent on administrative and regulatory requirements. Sharidyn Rogers

Maudene van Rooyen on the challenges people encounter with the PowerPulse energy solutions:

Unless a client is part of the sector and well versed in energy, it is extremely difficult for them to understand how a solar PV system will result in positive cash flows. It’s very difficult for them to know upfront how the system should respect how to accurately compare solution providers with proposals. And ultimately, it’s difficult for them to get to the desired outcome and to know what the return on investment should look like.

On the types of questions that clients ask before choosing PowerPulse:

In my four years in the bank, within the sector, our clients mainly struggle with comparing solutions and the solution provider. If I can go more into detail, it’s things like: how do they know if the system is priced correctly; if the quality of equipment will last them for the next 25 years; that their system is over or undersized; and what the regulatory requirements are for small scale embedded generation within South Africa.

Errol Dorman on pre-vetting as part of the PowerPulse programme:

One of the big strengths of the PowerPulse programme is the pre-vetting I’ve done in the PowerPulse programme. [It] is exactly what our industry requires. The problem in the solar sector at the moment is, there are more than 10,000 installers. It’s an electrical industry operation but we’ve got unlicensed contractors, non-registered contractors. Because it’s a very popular industry, all sorts of parties are getting involved. Fundamentally, it’s an electrically integrated industry and these require legislation or companies that are registered and have licensed electricians.

It’s a huge issue. The pre-vetting requires a lot of documentation to [ensure] the company, just as a small example, has a letter of good standing. If there is an injury on-site, you [must be] covered by workman’s compensation. There are many, many sites [that I visit to check] whether they are unlicensed, unregistered. [There are] some great contractors but, unfortunately, it creates a problem in the industry. 

Mike Cubic on contractors who misunderstand solar products:

Most of the time, if contractors don’t understand the product, they [won’t] understand the value chain and supply. They will underspec a site or incorrectly design a system. That often leads to them not pricing it correctly and often too cheaply. They run into problems and sacrifice on quality and the installation and then ultimately it fails. 

Maudine van Rooyen on the criteria to getting the PowerPulse solution installed:

We anticipated that [would] happen and is why we have a set criteria for onboarding a PowerPulse solution provider. If I can go into detail [regarding] that criteria, it’s a track record. How many installations have you done and what are your success stories? How happy are your clients, not just with your installation, but also your after-sales [service] because this is a 25-year investment. We also look at the knowledge within the solution provider, the technical capabilities and the ability of the solution provider to handle commercial and industrial installations because CNI is very different from residential.

Maudine van Rooyen on the types of challenges that PowerPulse clients encounter:

Some clients do have a little bit of knowledge but [others have no idea] at all. That is why PowerPulse is there, to guide them through the process. What I found clients are experiencing challenges with, is identifying the strategic case, the financial case and the technical and operational aspects they need to consider.

Maudine van Rooyen on helping clients through pricing and O&M costs:

There’s a saying: ‘the devil is in the detail’, and is exactly what our comparison report in PowerPulse sells for. It gives the client a detailed report on three solutions from three different solution providers. We indicate pricing across the three solutions and how to do the price calculation, which a lot of clients struggle with because they are not in the energy sector and are not well versed. We go further and unpack the quality of the equipment and the applicable warranties. We indicate how the system was sized in relation to the load profile, which is essentially the annual consumption of the client.

That answers the question of whether the system is sized appropriately. We also touch on things like operation and maintenance costs after the plant is installed because [that is crucial] in maintaining the system. Most importantly, from a financial perspective, we unpack the cash flows for each solution. We indicate the payback period with the tax incentive and without so we accommodate both clients in that regard. 

Maudine van Rooyen on a PowerPulse success story:

About two weeks ago, a client completed the PowerPulse process and their finance team really struggled to present the financial and strategic case to the board because they were not 100% sure which technical aspects and operational aspects to consider. If you think about it, the board is the ultimate decision-maker. They consulted PowerPulse and we started the process for them. Prior to PowerPulse, it took them six months to source quotations. [We brought] some standardisation to the proposals they had already received. Once they had spoken to us, it took six weeks for the board and the finance team to make an informed decision. 

Errol Dorman on reactions from the board when presenting the client’s case:

In this particular client’s case, there was a lot of negotiation about contracts, understanding the execution of solar and the speed at which solar is done. It is an investment but it’s done very quickly. So, the board’s decision and having the PowerPulse programme’s advice on the contractual part was very valuable. Understanding the stock, but we’re hearing a lot about a global crisis, and we think it’s not in South Africa, but it’s right here with us now. We are seeing a massive rise in pricing in the renewable sector, in certain commodities. That needed to be [explained] to the consumer. We [have to constantly] fight rand-dollar stock availability and several other factors that challenge the renewable space.

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