Las Vegas Windustrial shines with support to world’s largest solar thermal power project

By Chuck Manker, WinWholesale Marketing

Responding to the call to serve and going the extra mile – literally – has resulted in a big win for Las Vegas Windustrial that paid off in more ways than one.

When NRG Energy Services opened its Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the largest solar thermal power project of its kind in the world, in October 2013, the company had trouble getting suppliers to respond to requests for service, according to Jim Davis, inside sales support for Engineered Products at Las Vegas Windustrial. “They have a difficult situation being an hour out of town and had a hard time with vendors getting back to them or wanting to go out there.”

Ivanpah_six_guysLas Vegas Windustrial received two awards for supplier and service excellence from NRG Energy Services. Shown left to right are Harold Craft, NRG Purchasing; Burk Boschetto, local company president, Charlie Pappas and Jim Davis Engineered Product Sales; Jeff Carter, NRG Maintenance planner, and Mark Harvey, NRG Purchasing manager. Two of the three Ivanpah facility towers are in the background. Photo by NRG Energy Services.

“Out there” is 59 miles from Las Vegas in California’s Mojave Desert.

A recommendation gets the ball rolling

The call from NRG to the local company came because of a recommendation from a former customer who worked at another power plant. “We got back to them quickly,” said Jim, who is a degreed mechanical engineer which comes in handy when working with NRG.

Quickly is an understatement. “I made one call to them, and they delivered parts an hour and a half later,” said Mark Harvey, purchasing director for the Ivanpah facility. “That was my first telephone call. Then I had a meeting with Charlie Pappas, and it took off from there. It’s been outstanding ever since,” Mark said of the relationship with Las Vegas Windustrial. Charlie is outside sales and the engineered products manager for the local company.

Las Vegas Windustrial proved to NRG that it could be the plant’s supplier. “We try to provide them a turnkey solution for everything they need from commodities to engineered products,” said Charlie, who is a former pipe fitter/steam fitter and former Las Vegas Windustrial customer.

360,000 mirrors and 392 megawatts of solar power

The Ivanpah facility was fully operational Jan. 1 and covers 3,600 acres in the desert. At full capacity, the facility’s three 450-foot high towers and 180,000 heliostats produce a gross total of 392 megawatts of solar power, according to NRG. That’s enough electricity to provide 140,000 homes with power, the company said. According to the company, last February, the Ivanpah facility accounts for 30 percent of all solar thermal energy in the United States.

A heliostat is a device that includes a mirror (two for each Ivanpah heliostat – 360,000 mirrors) which turns to keep reflecting sunlight toward the towers as the sun moves through the sky. The mirrors focus solar energy on the towers which have a 2,200 ton boiler on top each of them to create high pressure steam to make electricity.

Jim and Charlie work as a team on the account, said Burk Boschetto, Las Vegas Windustrial president. Charlie determines what NRG needs, and Jim finds the parts, ensures they meet specifications, prepares the quote and processes the order. The company does what’s required to serve a large account, like the additional effort to find specialized parts and ensuring NRG receives them promptly.

“Many of the parts are special order items, like motor starter resistors from the United Kingdom and Sweden,” Jim said.

Supplying everything from commodities to engineered parts

“We’re their integrated supplier, providing Ivanpah with everything from commodities to engineered parts,” Charlie said. The products supplied include, for example, boiler and pump parts, compression fittings, nuts, bolts, connectors, welding machines and gear, a towable rotary screw compressor, and even 300 9-volt lithium batteries.

“Charlie developed a relationship with NRG and there’s a level of trust,” Burk said. “We take care of them on the critical things and they give us the gravy too.”

It’s a business partnership between Las Vegas Windustrial and NRG, Charlie said. ” It’s a win-win situation for everybody when the plant is in operation and we’re both making money,” he explained.

Two NRG awards for supplier/service excellence

NRG Energy Services must like what Las Vegas Windustrial is doing. NRG presented the company with its 2013 Supplier Excellence Award and the Service Excellence Award for the First Quarter of Generation for 2014.

Mark said Las Vegas Windustrial was chosen for the awards because of the service, attitude and sense of urgency the company provides

“Give them everything they want and more, and exceed their expectations,” Burk said in describing how they serve the customer. “It’s part of my quest to be a solutions based organization. We’re known for specific products in the marketplace and customers call us for solutions with our products. It’s all about that trust. That’s the root of everything, no matter what you’re selling.”