News

Interview with Kevin Wallace, Senior Project Manager at POWER Engineers

Plant in San Jacinto Tizate, Nicaragua (source: PowerEngineers)
Francisco Rojas 19 Sep 2014

ThinkGeoEnergy interviews Kevin Wallace, Senior Project Manager at POWER Engineers a global consulting engineering firm specializing in the delivery of integrated solutions.

Following our series of interviews to key players in the geothermal industry, ThinkGeoEnergy has had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Wallace, Senior Project Manager at POWER Engineers.

A well respected company in the industry, POWER Engineers excel as a full-service, multi-disciplinary design-build consultants for transmission distribution, industrial and telecommunications engineering.

Founded in 1976, it is an employee-owned company with more than 1,900 employees and over 35 offices throughout the United States and extensive operations at a global scale.

Since the late 1980s, the company and their engineering team has provided energy efficient and renewable energy conceptual and detailed design, capital cost estimates, generation feasibility assessments, site assessments, advanced controls and and field engineering, especially for the geothermal industry.

Where is your company based and where are you right now?

Hailey, Idaho is our geothermal center of excellence, but we have geothermal savvy engineers in Boise and soon in Bangkok Thailand. We have recently acquired the venerable firm of Burns and Roe. This gives us more bench strength in power plant design in both New Jersey and Bangkok. We intend to staff the Thai office with some geothermal savvy individuals to service the SE Asia market.

How international is your business and how does this affect your work?

Very international. I would say 85% of our business is overseas. We enjoy some good relationships with the IPPs in the US and execute some plant performance studies and plant betterment design with most of the players. However, there are not a lot of new design/build opportunities in the US right now. Gas and Solar PV are very competitive right now

How much do you travel?

A lot. I am Diamond Class on Delta if that is any indication. I make at least 8 major trips overseas each year to Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya, Turkey, Mexico and Central America. Each trip, I see as many companies as possible, so all my trips are usually two or more weeks. It is good. I’ve made a lot of friends and clients around the world and get to visit when I come through

What technology do you carry on a trip?

Just a smart phone and laptop. The smart phone has GPS capability which is helpful in taxis in strange cities. I have downloaded the maps of all the major cities I travel and even a few job sites. I received over a hundred relevant emails every day, even on weekends. POWER prides itself in prompt and courteous service. I try and respond to everyone that day to let them know we can help.

What are the key things that differentiate your company in the market?

Service. We aim to please.

Technology Agnostic. We find the best solution for the issue at hand

Experience. POWER has done the detailed design and started up power plants. We put our heads, hands (and hearts) into every plant. We diagnosed a lot of underperforming plants. That gives us a huge advantage over most firms. From our position of strong designers, we can provide sage advice

What are the main obstacles for your business today?

Developers whose plant procurement and steamfield development schedules are not synchronized.

What are the key markets for the geothermal industry right now and why?

Developing countries

Locations with imported diesel

Medium scale binary in US (can never compete with cheap gas)

Where do you see the industry in 20 years from now?

Plant technologies are incrementally getting better, but we don’t see many game changers

Improvements in exporation techniques and lower drilling costs are the key

 

If you had unlimited funding to promote geothermal, what would you do?

Take risk out of drilling

What would be your key advise for people wanting to enter the geothermal industry?

Be well rounded. Geothermal power is a mix of thermodynamics, unique technologies, chemistry and Mother Earth. We need to consider all of them simultaneously

 

ThinkGeoEnergy would like to thank Mr. Wallace for the Interview.

To learn more from POWER Engineers please visit the company’s website