Conversation with Jeff Mack

Vice President of Post-Sale Customer Support, Northern Reliability Inc.

262

Tell us a little about yourself and your responsibilities at Northern Reliability.

I am an entrepreneur who loves ideas and possibilities. I founded Northern Reliability in 2007, and just recently stepped down as the company’s president and CEO.  After leading the company for more than five years, I realized that it was time to bring someone in with more experience building a company in the growth stage we’re currently in.  I have remained in my role as chairman of the Board of Directors, so I am still involved in setting the strategic direction of the company. In my day-to-day role, I am VP of  post-sale customer support—which really means I’m an expediter who helps customers, vendors, and our team with whatever needs arise once our systems are in place. This includes field service, training, warranty issues, and fulfilling new needs, among other things.

Could you give us some information about the genesis of the company and its history?

Northern Reliability is an off-shoot of Northern Power Systems—a pioneer in the wind and remote power industry. In 2007, Northern Power Systems made the business decision to move out of the remote power system business, and focus exclusively on wind turbine manufacturing.  I worked for Northern Power at the time in the warranty and post-sale support department and saw a great opportunity to start a new company focused on servicing the Northern Power legacy customers needing support for their remote power systems. I founded Northern Reliability in 2007, focusing mainly on spare parts procurement for large legacy contracts. In time, it became evident that customers were looking for engineering support and a new source for high-quality, low-maintenance remote power systems, which lead us to make the natural transition into the design and manufacture of power systems.

Can you give our readers a general description of your products and services portfolio? 

Northern Reliability designs and builds electric power systems for use in off-grid locations around the world. Our systems incorporate solar, generators, and other energy production technologies (wind, fuel cell, thermal) with batteries and state of the art controls, enabling our customers to produce their own highly reliable, continuous, low-maintenance source of power, wherever they need it.  Our Solar Obstruction Lighting Systems (SOLS Series) are used in the wind industry on MET towers, and our Solar Power Systems (SPS Series) are used to power LIDAR and SODAR systems in remote areas.  We also offer Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to provide energy storage for net metered renewable power systems and back-up power for businesses to keep the power on for critical loads during times of disaster or when the utility grid is down.

Northern Reliability also provides a full slate of engineering and field services, both for new systems and system already deployed in the field (including feasibility studies; system engineering; equipment and parts procurement; installation, commissioning, and testing; owner and end-user training; remote monitoring and control; and maintenance, auditing, and upgrades).

How long Has Northern Reliability been active in the wind energy industry?

As an off-shoot of Northern Power Systems, Northern Reliability’s roots fall squarely in the wind industry. Our professionals have worked on wind turbine design, production, and installation for decades.  We continue to incorporate wind into our remote power systems, where the situation warrants it, and partnering with wind companies to provide the balance of system for their turbines.

What is it that makes Northern Reliability and its products and services unique?

Time-tested reliability is the cornerstone of our business. Our engineers are experts at designing rugged, low-maintenance systems that perform in harsh environments, often unmanned for months at a time. The key to this reliability is our expertise in battery energy storage, and in our system controls which optimize energy production and storage, and protecting the system components through environmental controls.

Which industries does Northern Reliability currently serve?

Our products fill a niche market across many industries, including utilities, telecom, government & military, islands and remote communities, oil & gas, and disaster preparedness.  What our customers have in common is a need for highly reliable, continuous and/or backup power for critical loads, often in remote locations with complex environmental challenges (mountaintops, extremely cold climates, high winds, etc.). More and more, customers are also turning to Northern Reliability as a means of obtaining energy surety and independence from traditional utility-grid power. In this realm, our systems offer a renewable-based, cost-effective alternative to complete reliance on costly, dirty, loud diesel generators—perfect for islands and remote communities, and for businesses needing highly reliable backup power in the case of natural disaster or grid failure.

Are there any trends within the industry where you feel Northern Reliability can make a significant impact?

Microgrids—they are increasingly becoming an important part of the 21st century energy landscape. Microgrids combine local power generation via renewable energy sources and the capacity to store that power through battery energy storage systems. They allow businesses, communities, and industries to generate their own electrical power output in a self-contained, localized area and to manage their energy usage—increasing energy independence, surety, and reducing strain on the traditional utility grid.  Northern Reliability’s engineers have been at the forefront of the developing microgrid field—most recently designing, building and installing a microgrid system for an island community off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

For more information about Northern Reliability Inc., call 802-496-2955, or visit their newly redesigned website at northernreliability.com.