One Wind is an independent renewable energy service provider offering a full suite of services for the renewable energy industry including construction, operation and maintenance, long-term service contracts, and inspection services. The company’s Canadian office is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and its U.S. office is in Austin, Texas.
One Wind was founded in 2006 by Paul Pynn, a Canadian engineer with a unique combination of experience working in both construction and wind energy. Prior to launching One Wind, Pynn worked as a project engineer and later a project manager for various construction companies in eastern Canada. Later, he spent five years working with a small wind turbine manufacturer.
“There wasn’t much of a renewable energy industry in this part of the world at that time,” says Pynn. “I spent most of that time outside of North America learning about the industry and the technology.” What he learned about wind energy would ultimately lead him to start a company.
He identified a gap in the Canadian renewable energy marketplace that his unique skill set could easily fold into. At the time, a number of wind farms were being built in eastern Canada, and One Wind began providing construction management and support on these projects. That was the company’s genesis, and from there it has continued to grow by expanding both its service offering and its geographical footprint. As the company established a reputation, demand for its services grew, and it began to expand across Canada.
Within a few years, One Wind had established itself as a valuable construction partner in the renewable energy market. The company was developing a reputation for quality work, and soon a new opportunity arose. “One of our clients was having trouble keeping their turbines running and they asked us if we could help with the operation and maintenance,” says Pynn. “That pushed us into the service side of the business.” Over the last five years, the operation and maintenance of wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies has become a key component of One Wind’s service offering. That opportunity enabled the company to expand into the United States, and its growth has been consistent ever since.
Today, the company employs 130 people including engineers, technicians, and administrative personnel. It has an office in Austin, Texas and a training facility in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s worked on projects in nearly every province and state in North America and has expanded its service offering to include more than just wind energy services.
Three years ago the company’s leadership made the strategic decision to leverage its experience in wind energy to expand into adjacent renewable energy sectors. “We have all this tech and project experience in wind energy,” says Pynn. “We have engineers, technicians, electricians, and mechanics. Solar energy, electric vehicle infrastructure, and energy storage are all technologies that are easily transferable from our background in wind.”
The One Wind team began exploring and bidding on projects in those spaces and as of now they have twenty-five solar projects in front of them. They started slowly, doing a number of small rooftop solar installations. Now they’re working on much larger community solar farm projects.
Beyond solar, the company has also worked on electric vehicle infrastructure. In 2018, One Wind completed the installation of a level three charging network for Nova Scotia Power. Twelve level three and twelve level two charging stations were installed for charging electric vehicles at various locations throughout Nova Scotia. Now, the company is installing Tesla Super Chargers throughout Atlantic Canada.
Another project that One Wind worked on with Nova Scotia Power involved the construction of a 1.2-megawatt storage system using Tesla batteries at a substation. This was the company’s first storage project, but this sector presents a key opportunity for the company going forward.
One Wind’s leadership believes that its people are its biggest asset. The company credo is ‘Work Safely, Work Hard, Be Positive.’ “It’s simple, but it’s something we try to ingrain into every aspect of the business,” says Pynn. “We have a large number of technicians and engineers that are working all over North America and they are constantly exposed to every dangerous thing you can think of. They’re working at heights, in extreme weather conditions, they’re constantly working around electricity – it’s a very dangerous occupation, so a focus on health and safety is a primary concern for us.”
Because the services that One Wind provides can be so dangerous, quality management is closely connected to health and safety. Having a comprehensive quality management program enables the team to stay organized, which results in a safe working environment. These programs require a high standard of compliance from employees. It’s hard work, but when everyone works together everyone remains safe.
An Tran, One Wind’s Health and Safety Coordinator, has decades of experience working with some of the largest health and safety consulting companies in the world. During a three day leadership training seminar held last December he spoke about his experience in the industry. He said that though he’d worked for many companies around the world, he hoped to retire with One Wind. “That made me feel really good,” says Pynn, “because our focus is on our culture and making people feel like they’re a part of the team and that they want to work for this company. For him to say that really made me think that we must be doing something right.”
Working safely, and working hard to be productive within the strict confines of those safety standards is certainly important, but equally important for One Wind is that people are enjoying their work. The company works very hard to promote a culture of positivity. “We want everyone to feel like they’re part of a team. We treat our technicians well, pay them well, talk to them like they’re people and not numbers. It’s the combination of those three things – working safely, working hard, and being positive – that has been the key to our success.”
The renewable energy industry is growing rapidly in North America, and One Wind is growing with it. One key challenge for the company has been maintaining its commitment to core values while bringing in new people to meet demands. It must work to ensure that its culture of safety, hard work and positivity remains, even while new technicians are sent to widely distributed locations throughout North America. It’s a significant challenge for the company to make sure that every person believes in and operates according to those values as they represent the company to clients in the field.
As the number of wind turbines increases, the volume of work increases as well. Many of the owners and operators of those turbines are large international utility companies; in some cases, they have thousands of turbines in operation. In order to optimize their operating and maintenance costs, they use a combination of OEM warranty services, independent service providers like One Wind, and their own internal technicians to operate their wind farms and other renewable assets.
One Wind is uniquely poised to turn this situation into a substantial opportunity. When turbine equipment is outside of the OEM warranty, One Wind can come on board to assist these companies with operation and maintenance services just like any other independent service provider. However, as a result of the company’s highly certified quality, health and safety program, it has the qualifications necessary to work with the OEMs to help them manage the volume of work they have even while equipment is still under warranty. One Wind is in a unique position that enables it to serve customers in both capacities.
As the cost of solar and wind power continues to fall, the cost of energy storage equipment is following the same declining curve. By combining wind turbines and solar panels with batteries, renewable energy solutions are rapidly becoming competitive with fossil fuels all over the world. This fundamentally changes the dynamics of the energy industry and One Wind has a well-established expertise in all of the technologies necessary to participate in that growth.
The cost of wind energy has declined substantially over the last few years, driven primarily by the declining cost of the wind turbines themselves. One Wind has learned that providing the highest quality of service will result in the lowest operating cost. Focusing investment on improving quality, health and safety management systems will enable the company to provide the best possible value going forward.