Utility-Scale Contractor Leverages Experience in the Wind Industry to Invest in the Solar Industry

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives (IEA) has made a name for itself in the civil construction industry by constructing more than 23 GW of wind projects in the U.S. and Europe. Despite this, the company through its subsidiary White Construction is focused more on investing in the solar industry. The company is competing with Mortenson, an industry leader, to get the country’s top wind power EPC.

According to the senior VP of solar, Joe Broom, IEA had worked on several solar projects, particularly in Canada. Later on, the company shifted its focus and began expanding in the U.S. market in 2019. Broom said that wind was IEA’s bread and butter but the board came up with a strategic decision to consider other renewable segments like solar. The board then gave him a 5-year operating plan that he was able to meet in 3 years. 

Broom noted that the solar market is very robust despite the many challenges associated with it. This is because of the lack of quality EPCs that can effectively take up all the work in the queue. Although IEA initially worked on projects below 100 MW, Broom says that the company is now more streamlined and bids on much larger projects. They are also working with two or three component suppliers to learn the art of installing solar and complete the process in good time.

Broom noted that IEA solar revenues for one quarter of the year were at par with the wind revenues. While this was surprising to others at IEA, Broom was not surprised since the wind contracts have remained steady, even though the USA is shifting to an offshore construction market.

Broom described the strategy by which IEA got into the solar market which involved considering other segments like solar. He said that going public in 2018 allowed the company to work with board members who had useful skill sets and expertise from other industries. Besides the wind, Broom says that the company is investing in other strategies like battery storage to expand its growth into renewables.

The other thing that puts the company at an advantage is the availability of labor. Broom said that it is easy to cycle the available labor force on the wind side to the solar side. He concluded by saying that the company has not forgotten about the wind; although it has increased the bidding effort on the solar side.

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