Utah-based structural engineering firm expands headquarters and ramps up staff to serve solar industry’s coming period of mature growth.
After two years of spectacular growth in its Solar Engineering Services Division, Vector Engineers has emerged as a national leader in certifying residential solar power installations. "One of our divisions," says Vector Principal Engineer Roger Alworth, "performs structural solar engineering services. In 2015, we prepared just over four thousand certification letters. By 2017, that number jumped to over twenty-three thousand."
Vector's approach, which has resulted in the company's success in the nation's Telecom sector, notes Alworth, helped Vector be prepared to meet the solar community's needs. The company spent five years becoming familiar with requirements of both residential and commercial solar installers before hiring James W. 'Jamey' Johnston to grow the new solar division. By that point, Vector was licensed in every state, and had built the software necessary to track and assign jobs in a high-volume, rapid-throughput environment. "The proprietary systems we developed over the past fifteen years," says Alworth, "have enabled us to meet our clients' time constraints."
To accommodate its rapidly expanding customer base, less than a year ago the company completed construction of a new, expanded headquarters facility in Draper, Utah. "We allotted significant space for our ‘solar cell,'" says Alworth, "and we are rapidly filling it up. Over the past two years, we have hired 32 new full-time and part-time engineers to support our solar practice—and the next major phase of solar growth hasn't even started yet."
Industry experts agree. Solar project developer Sol Systems projects that over the next year, the solar industry will develop, construct, and finance $25 to $30 billion in solar assets, build 20% to 25% of the country's new electrical capacity, and continue to employ hundreds of thousands of people. It is widely predicted that by 2020, solar will be the dominant source of new electricity generation in the United States.1
"This next phase of solar development," says Alworth, "will come as a result of the experience gained by a young, but rapidly maturing industry and the resulting streamlining of industry processes." His own company, in fact, has played a significant role in the streamlining of one essential industry process, the issuance of residential structural solar certification letters.
Before a household solar system can be installed, the designer and installer must submit engineering drawings and a building permit application letter to the building department. In many cases, a structural engineering firm licensed in the state where the system is to be installed must first must provide a structural solar certification letter. Vector, which is licensed in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, is able to help its clients stay on schedule by executing these certification letters quickly, often in 1 to 2 business days.
"As we do that," says Alworth, "we adhere to the same high engineering standards we apply to everything we do. We are proud to be part of the American solar sector's explosive growth—and proud to be ready to continue to meet the industry's needs in the years ahead."
About Vector Engineers:
Vector Solar is a division of Vector Structural Engineers.
Founded in 2002, Vector Engineers is a full-service structural engineering firm with over 2,500 clients throughout the United States. The company's areas of expertise include multi-family, residential, commercial, telecom, bridges, industrial, and solar. Services include the design of new structures, the analysis and redesign of retrofit and repairs of existing structures, as well as residential and commercial solar structural certifications. Expert witness experience includes structural defects, foundation settlement, building code analysis, and soil and structure stabilization. Vector's team includes thirty engineers, a full drafting division, and support staff. The company is headquartered in Draper, Utah, with satellite offices in Mesa, Arizona, Layton, Utah, St. George, Utah, and Tustin, California.
1. Horwitz, Yuri, "Why Solar Is on a Path to Dominance," Green Tech Media, February 15, 2018.