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In the renewable energy industry, relationships are the currency of success
There are two names in renewable energy that go way back – Atwell and Apex Clean Energy. Company names have changed, titles have changed, and environmental experts have shifted into new roles across a variety of entities. Despite inevitable changes over the years, the people at Apex have stayed close to the people at Atwell. And that decision has resulted in fruitful opportunities for both.
Founded in 2009, Apex Clean Energy now boasts 400 industry experts as a leader in renewable energy across North America. They have gone from being a simple wind energy developer to being an Independent Power Producer with all elements of renewables in their portfolio. With close-knit relationships built over years of work and successful projects, the history between Apex and Atwell has evolved into a working partnership. At the helm of the work sits Daniel Farmer, Vice President of Power & Energy at Atwell.
“Apex has developed 10 gigawatts of renewable energy projects over the years, and we’ve supported them in a multitude of roles,” Farmer explains. “From environmental, surveying, and engineering teams, our work and expertise in various development areas provides us with expanded opportunities to support Apex as a leader in the industry.”
Just over one year ago, Apex and Atwell entered a new phase of their partnership. While Atwell previously came into a project to work in one area, they will now act as a consultant for multiple Apex projects. Leadership at both companies discussed topics like how Atwell can help Apex fulfill their vision, where will they need to secure an outside vendor, and in what capacity Atwell can manage the full project from start to finish.
According to Farmer, this is where much of the trust in a business relationship is built – in being open, transparent, and diligent. “Rather than over promise and under deliver, Atwell is unafraid to say, ‘We may not have all the answers right now, but we will find them and help you achieve your goal.’ This value is not only demonstrated with clients, but as part of Atwell’s company culture. Farmer continues, “At Atwell, we believe being bold and unafraid to try separates us from the rest, as does our number one value: Being client-centric. We aim to ensure our work delivers measurable results and provide the most cost-effective solutions for our clients along the way. That is exactly what we’ve done for Apex over the years.”
It is because of this history and trust that Atwell is included in the future of renewable energy at Apex. “We’re prepared to develop, and we will be developing renewable and energy storage projects–wind, solar, battery storage, as well as other technologies,” says Farmer. “All for the purpose of powering facilities which will create green hydrogen for the new green hydrogen hubs and green hydrogen economy.”
Because it’s a partnership, Atwell looks at any challenge, issue, or change more closely and uncovers ways to minimize any negative impacts. “We’re very open with them,” Farmer states. “We have very candid conversations about why there are greater costs to do some things and lesser costs to do others; why one project may cost more than another, even though they seem identical, these differences often have to do with location and equipment to be employed on the project.”
Farmer’s team respects and values the trust that Apex has with Atwell, and they are constantly evaluating how they can continue providing innovative solutions and strategic advisement.
“A theme through everything that the engineering group does is we continually look for places where we can engage our family of services– environmental, survey, and land development to help engage with the client as early in the development process as possible and cover any blind spots we may have,” says Farmer. “For the good of the client, we’re looking at the whole picture, not just one leg of the work.”
To build long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, Farmer recommends three things:
- Keep doors open for yourself and for your company by focusing on the future. The renewable space is a small world. Colleagues and employees are rapidly shifting. You never know when a former colleague becomes the client, so don’t shy away from a new connection.
- Along the same lines, keep your eye on the bigger picture of a project. Be honest, up-front, and communicative. Be willing to say when you don’t know something, and when you don’t-be ready to help people find the person who can.
- Maintain professionalism across projects and all involved. Clients will observe how cooperative and supportive you are of external vendors or outside contractors. Failing to do this could mean the loss of future work.
These three things combined lead to lasting and mutually beneficial relationships for years to come.