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March 4, 2024

Recap of ACP Operations & Maintenance + Safety: Insights from Five Dynamic Panels

RNWBL had the privilege to participate in the ACP Operations, Maintenance, and Safety (OMS) conference in February 2024, contributing both as attendees and speakers. This annual conference serves as a vital platform for industry leaders to form discussions on industry trends, forward-looking strategies and overall best practices. With a commitment to advancing O&M services and ensuring overall industry safety, RNWBL was honored to have five industry experts selected to share their insights across five diverse panels.

Panel 1: Gearing up for Success

The "Gearing up for Success" panel delved into the intricate workings of turbine drivetrains while addressing the challenges posed by emerging technologies in the industry. This session served as a comprehensive exploration of drivetrain operations, monitoring, manufacturing, and repair, offering invaluable insights from seasoned industry experts.

RNWBL Speaker: Richard Brooks, VP of Sales and Business Development at Gearbox Express

With a rich background in sales, IT consulting, and a 24-year tenure at The Timken Co, Rick brought a wealth of expertise to the table. His extensive experience managing aftermarket services for wind energy markets makes him an asset in our industry.

Key Points / Takeaways:

· ACP Drivetrain Playbook & Performance subcommittee: Announcement and discussion of the new ACP published resource and encouraged participation in the subcommittee.

· New drivetrain technologies: Discussed the problems the wind industry is currently facing with early failures on new large rotor turbines, focusing on main bearing failures and new gearboxes with journal bearings.

· Condition monitoring advancements: Dived into the new monitoring technologies and the struggles owner operators are having with applying them to improve performance.

Panel 2: Operational Outlook: IRA Impact Analysis

This panel discussed the complexities of the Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship requirements for clean energy projects financed under the new IRA requirements. The panelists shared valuable insights on navigating PWA requirements, managing risks, and implementing effective compliance strategies.

RNWBL Speaker: Drea Jones, VP of Recruiting

Drea Jones brings her expertise in recruiting and talent acquisition to the discussion, offering valuable perspectives on the practical implications of the IRA for workforce management and development within the clean energy industry.

Key Points / Takeaways:

· Risk Management: Provided the audience with strategies to address compliance risks associated with PWA requirements.

· Labor Classifications: Clarified distinctions between repair/alteration and routine operations according to the language provided by the Department of Labor.

· Navigating Apprenticeship Requirements: Developed compliance strategies and utilized existing programs to meet requirements.

· Properly Recording & Reporting: Discussed the importance of maintaining accurate records and understanding record-keeping responsibilities to get ahead of potential audits.

· Error Rectification: Established processes for correcting errors like incorrect wage payments and mitigating potential risks.

Panel 3: Streamlining Success: Efficiency in Operations

Moderated by Alex Jones, CTO of RNWBL and President of DSPTCH, the panelist discussed the evolution of economic efficiencies, highlighted opportunities amidst both stability and volatility, strategized innovative solutions leveraging people, processes, and technology, and explored scalable approaches with a forward-looking perspective.

Moderator: Alex Jones, CTO of DSPTCH

Key Points / Takeaways:

· Actionable improvements for operations

· Intersection of perspectives

· Engineering elegance and scale

Panel 4: Solar Solutions

This panel discussion featured operations and maintenance (O&M) experts focusing on crucial considerations for utility-scale solar project owners and operators to enhance performance and reliability.

RNWBL Speaker: Katie Hoepfl, VP of Business Development

Katie Hoepfl, Vice President of Business Development at RNWBL, is an expert in facilitating the growth of renewable energy projects. Her experience spans business development, project management, and customer relationship management, and performance engineering.

Key Points / Takeaways:

· Managing your spare parts risk

o As you approach the end of warranty, ensure you are stocked up on critical and sole-sourced components, such as comm boards.

o Establish smart reorder points and reorder quantities.

o Work with a supply chain partner who is actively engaged with the market, regularly identifying alternate sources, and will inform you of new supply or lead time risks.

· Managing risk from natural disasters starts long before O&M, make this part of the conversation during development and put any design needs in your EPC scope.

· Project proformas are pushing inverter reserves for repowers to year 15 or greater; however, smoothing that spend across years 10-20 and using the removed inverters as spares for the remaining is a smart solution to stretch your dollar and optimize plant performance given the situation.

Panel 5: Data-Driven Safety: Analyses and Strategies

This session discussion focused on the importance of using Data-driven safety analysis and strategies for identifying, understanding, and mitigating risks associated with work performed in renewable energy. The panelists provided a comprehensive overview identifying and measuring the data that matters to help identify gaps in safety performance.

RNWBL Speaker: Preston Wetzel, VP - EHS & Training

Key Points / Takeaways:

· Relying on traditional injury rates to measure safety performance can impede strategic decision-making and long-term improvement.

· Safety is a process that we constantly manage and should be viewed as the presence of capacity in any organization to fail safely, rather than an outcome to be achieved.

· Focus incentive programs on leading indicator activities real time monitoring to encourage engagement from all employees.

· Don't use leading indicators to simply “check the box”. To learn and improve, we need to close the loop by providing positive feedback to the employees that participate with leading indicator initiatives and ensure findings are reviewed, shared, and acted upon.

In conclusion, the ACP Operations & Maintenance + Safety conference provided valuable insights from each seasoned industry panelist. As we navigate the complexities of technology, regulations, efficiency, and safety, let's continue to engage in dialogue and collaboration. Reach out to our expert panelists at RNWBL for ongoing discussions and updates on each of these topics.

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