West Coast Energy is one of the UK’s leading independent wind energy developers. The company was established in 1996 and today operates throughout the UK, having built up a reputation as a reliable provider of quality services and solutions for the wind energy sector. The company is currently involved in developing hundreds of megawatts of wind power generation for future renewable energy needs, and to date it has secured planning permission for a range of onshore and offshore wind farms totalling in excess of 500MW. West Coast Energy’s team of highly experienced professionals specialise in the identification, design, planning, development, construction and operation of wind energy projects.
As a result of this dynamic and innovative approach, the company has established an impressive track record of wind energy development success through the development of its own portfolio of projects, alongside the formation of strategic alliances and joint ventures with key partners. Backed by extensive knowledge of its industry and a comprehensive understanding of the technical, planning and environmental issues involved in the work, WCE’s experienced team of planners, surveyors, engineers and environmental managers are ideally placed to undertake in-depth studies and assessments leading to the identification and development of environmentally suitable wind farms.
The in-house team of surveyors and land managers have many years of experience of working in partnership with landowners, from farmers and owners of large estates to corporate property owners. With the necessary experience and expertise to progress the project through the complex UK planning system with minimal disruption to the landowner, West Coast Energy understands the complex requirements of wind energy development. It will aim to consult and involve the local community whenever it proposes a wind farm. This close communication with local residents and businesses gives the opportunity to raise queries and concerns, which West Coast Energy takes very seriously.
Through its association with the energy industry, the company established West Coast Network Services during 2004 in order to provide overhead line services to the utility sector. The services provided extend from traditional overhead line switching operations and minor repairs, through to the delivery of full ‘turnkey’ contracts involving design and operational engineering solutions required in vegetation management across the distribution network.
“For Network Services, the quality of our service is the key element of the business. We have an established track record, in terms of delivering a quality service safely,” Gerry Jewson, chairman of the West Coast Group explains. “The activity is potentially very hazardous; whilst overhead line repairs and earthing require working at height, arboricultural works involve working at considerable height in close proximity to overhead lines, coupled with the use of equipment, such as chainsaws. The safety of staff and sub-contractors are our primary objective. This hazardous task requires a highly experienced and committed management team who believe that training a highly motivated and valued workforce will ensure delivery and minimise staff turnover. Our employees and sub-contractors understand the customers’ needs and help us to implement innovative and bespoke cost-effective solutions.”
As a consequence of its personal approach to business, Network Services has seen growth in excess of 40 per cent per annum and continually strives to improve and extend the services provided. Recent contract awards will see the company recruiting over a hundred staff in order to deliver an increasing order book. This will include the recruitment of industry specialist staff and the associated management, as well as support staff.
In September 2009 the company moved to brand new green offices. Gerry comments: “Our new location is within a timber frame building with a green roof that provides high levels of insulation. We’re currently waiting for accreditation to ascertain the exact carbon reduction the office delivers, but we are aware that it is most likely one of the first private sector offices that will meet environmental accreditation in Wales. The building itself comprises 850 sq metres of office space for a maximum capacity of 90 people. With a very low carbon footprint, the building gives a strong message to clients, suppliers and competitors about our commitment to reducing emissions. Demonstrating our dedication to the wider community, especially given the nature of work we are involved in, is something that is very important to us as a business.”
The company is actively supporting industrial wind development, pursuing contracts with industrial partners and businesses to provide wind energy solutions that can satisfy customers’ existing and future energy needs. As it always seeks new opportunities for wind farm development across the UK, the business is currently looking for businesses with suitable land for wind energy development. Industrial partner businesses would gain a number of benefits from allowing wind turbines to be installed on their land. The supply of an alternative source of revenue and income would help offset existing and future electricity consumption costs, while allowing the company to demonstrate its low carbon initiatives to customers and stakeholders.
The company is all too aware of the effect the current recession is having on consumers and businesses alike. Gerry describes the impact the financial crisis has had on the business and how the West Coast Group plans to progress in the future: “There are opportunities out there, but they have been affected by the credit crunch, and everyone is being much more careful with their cash. Trading conditions haven’t been as good as they were either, but we firmly believe that in continuing to demonstrate to customers that we add value to their businesses, we will remain successful.
“Our future plans for Network Services are to expand our work geographically and also to widen the variety of services that are currently available to our existing customers. In terms of services we provide, our goal is to continue to innovate while improving quality and health and safety standards. Finally, the overall business plan is to double the size of the business by 2012, and we believe we are on target to achieve each of these aims.”