When O3 Energy started in 2011, company founders identified a need in the market — commercial building owners didn’t know where to start when going solar. From development to financing to construction, O3 promotes itself as well-versed in all aspects of C&I solar and seeks out corporations with little experience in the finer details of solar power.
“The goal is to get as much solar deployed as possible, and our channel partner program allows us to assist in doing that,” said Brad Stutzman, co-founder and CEO of O3 Energy. The company often works with building electricians and other stakeholders wanting to install solar on their properties.
“If I’m a building owner thinking about converting to solar, the first thing I’m going to do is call my electrician. That electrician who’s been keeping up with the maintenance of a building doesn’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of solar,” Stutzman said. “We started partnering with individuals that had these clients. We started showing them how to put together the financing, how to carry projects through development to construction.”
The Dallas-based company has since taken on the role of developing its own projects across the continental United States, Mexico and into the Pacific islands. O3 has a large presence in Guam and was the top performing contractor on the island, according to the 2019 Top Solar Contractors list.
“Whenever you look at the islands in general — Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico — solar just makes sense,” Stutzman said. “Their traditional power production on the island has been diesel or something that requires some sort of feedstock to drive it. Because it is an island, most of the resources have to be brought in. That creates a huge carbon footprint, so by providing solar to clients on islands, we help to drive down the overall cost of operating those buildings.”
O3 has an office in Guam, and Stutzman said the island regularly has rolling blackouts four years after an explosion at a diesel power plant brought down a significant portion of Guam’s power generation. The business case for solar is strong right now on the island.
“Whenever you come in with little pockets of solar here and there, it strengthens that grid and attacks a need they have,” Stutzman said. “That’s why we focused on Guam, to help the people of the island attack their electric grid.”
There are some complexities when it comes to working in a booming market in the middle of the Pacific though. Guam is no stranger to typhoons and earthquakes, so all solar projects must be structurally solid and built to withstand 180 mph wind loads. One benefit of the island’s location is solar materials are much easier, quicker and cheaper to source directly from Asia than ship from California warehouses.
O3 takes its experiences from Guam and translates them into its projects closer to home. The company has gradually taken on more aspects of solar project development, now getting involved with asset management and O&M. Stutzman said it’s important to O3 to vertically integrate to provide the best service possible.
“You see a lot of development groups out there that focus on 100% development, and they may not be looking at the best way to build a project. They develop it for the highest ROI, but they’re not really thinking about the long-term operations of the project. Same thing on the EPC side. We see some groups out there that just don’t understand what a developer is looking for in a project,” he said. “Our EPC division understands what our clients and their developers want. It helps us provide a better solution. It helps our clients achieve the ultimate goal of getting the project done in the most efficient way possible.”
Into the next decade, O3 Energy hopes to continue expanding into more service areas of solar.
“We want to continue to expand the company and really become a global solar player,” Stutzman said. “There are a lot of synergies that we can bring throughout the industry. We want to be that group that everyone strives to be.”