Tell us how you came to found the company, and how it’s grown over time.
I’d had this idea of launching a company based on providing transparent engineering, construction, and financial risk management support services for alternative and renewable energy projects for years, and I found myself with the opportunity to begin moving in that direction when my employer — the energy services division of Enron — ceased operations in 2001. The business model concept was to support owners and developers in getting their energy infrasture projects financed, through integrating energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies.
The energy market was too soft after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to do more than act as an independent consultant, so I kept the company dormant until the passing of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. This created significant opportunity for energy infrastructure projects through providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for various types of energy initiatives. So that’s when I started actively marketing Bocci Engineering, and it wasn’t long before I’d managed to land three research projects with the Texas State Energy Conservation Office through a partnership with the Houston Advanced Research Center, which is focused on the commercialization of alternative energy technologies.
So those three projects really opened the doors for Bocci Engineering, and by 2007 we had a growing group of full-time employees here in Texas in addition to a large number of independent energy consultants and contractors located around the country. And while we’ve experienced the same economic downturn that everyone else has, I can tell you that we’re in growth mode again, with more active projects booked for 2012 than we had in the last two years combined. We were also recently named one of the nation’s top 14 woman-owned businesses by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, or WBENC, so that’s something we’re very proud of as well.
The services listed on your Web site are pretty extensive, but could you give us an overview of your activities?
I’d be glad to. We’re a specialty energy and environmental consulting firm, and we focus on projects that pay for themselves. The first step in that process involves determining whether or not it’s economically feasible, as I’ve mentioned, because you don’t want to expend a lot of time and energy on a project that won’t end up getting built. We tend to work on “inside the fence” distributed energy generation deals that involve a mix of technologies such as wind, biofuels, and solar at the same site.
To give you an example, if a hospital contacted us interested in increasing their energy efficiency, we would analyze their power consumption curve to see if onsite power generation made sense. We would then review the resources available at that site to determine the right mix between wind turbines in one area, solar panels in another, and waste heat to energy. We would also consider renewable resources such as biomass, biogas, and water/wastewater needs. Bocci is involved in projects that address energy security and infrastructure hardening, which involves helping protect customers against long-term power outages caused by storms or other emergencies. In a nutshell, though, we can provide assistance through all phases of an energy project, from strategic development all the way though commissioning and beyond. We usually work directly with the owner to make sure that their goals for the development are met.
How would you describe your relationship with the wind industry?
As a two-way street. We are frequently brought in by wind farm owner/operators as a third-party technology review expert in order to help with the selection of major equipment, and we also act as a bridge between the developer and the investment world, helping that crucial relationship to proceed smoothly. As a systems integrator we need to know about the latest technologies being developed in the wind sector so that we can factor those concepts into our alternative energy assessments and project development activities. We work internationally, and we’ve been involved in offshore projects as well, so we’re here to be a resource for the North American and global wind energy market.