Willdan Group Positions for Microgrid Growth with Acquisition of Genesys

March 11, 2016
California-based Willdan Group sees microgrid growth ahead; acquires Genesys Engineering in anticipation.

California-based Willdan Group says that its recent decision to acquire New York-based Genesys Engineering is directly related to the microgrid growth it sees ahead.

“We continue to see more activity and funding for microgrid implementation across the country,” said Thomas Brisbin, Willdan president, CEO and director, during an earnings call on Thursday.

Willdan, which works in energy engineering, efficiency and homeland security, announced plans on February 29 to acquire Genesys, a mechanical and electrical consulting and engineering company. The two have already partnered frequently on other kinds of energy projects.

“The increase in demand for microgrids — central plant such as boilers and chillers, distributed generation — were a primary driver for the acquisition of Genesys Engineering that we announced last week,” Brisbin told investors.

He added that the companies’ combination of technical skills “will help us capitalize on the continued evolution towards distributed generation and microgrids.”

With annual revenue of $30 million, Genesys serves the kind of clients that tend to favor microgrids, among them universities, hospitals and utilities in New York, an epicenter of microgid growth.

Meanwhile, Willdan is already active in New York’s microgrid scene, working with teams on eight community microgrids. The teams are seeking funding through the $40 million NY Prize, a competition run by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA).

A win for just one of its NY Prize applications will put Willdan “on the map” nationally for microgrid services, according to Brisbin.

“If we move one forward –one – it puts us on the map. What you’re looking at is let’s say a five-year plan of how distributed generation and microgrids start to take over the overall transformation of utilities,” he said. “Hardly anyone can point to having implemented a complete microgrid for a municipality.”

Map of NY Prize Stage 1 Community Microgrid Winners. Credit: NYSERDA

Microgrid growth in other states too

Willdan also has submitted a proposal for a microgrid project in California, he said.

“And we’re closely monitoring the development of other state sponsored microgrid projects. It looks like Illinois, Massachusetts and Virginia might be the next states to provide funding for microgrid development,” he said.

Willdan is working on NY Prize applications for Westfield, Bath, Arcade, Sleepy Hollow, Geneseo and Tarrytown, NY; and the cities of Plattsburgh and Rochester, N.Y.

NYSERDA is reviewing NY Prize projects in a three-stage process. In the first phase, the selection committee approved up to $100,000 in funding for 83 feasibility studies across New York State. In stage 2, New York will narrow the field to a smaller group that will receive up to $1 million for design. The third and final stage is expected to result in five to seven microgrid projects that will receive  up to $5 million toward construction.

Thinking about a microgrid for your community? Find answers to your questions at the Microgrid Knowledge conference May 19 in New York City.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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