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June 16, 2015 | How to Combat Weather Delays

This is the second in a series of posts about the interactions between weather and solar. In this installment, we explore what strategies installers can employ to overcome delays caused by inclement weather.

As much as they’d like to, even the best solar installers can’t control the weather. And even when they watch the reports and anticipate rain and other inconvenient weather patterns, sometimes it just can’t be helped — weather can destroy a solar installation schedule faster than you can say rainstorm.

Here are two strategies to avoid financial disaster when you know bad weather is coming:

1)    Alert the stakeholders that unavoidable delays may be on the way. The best way to avoid problems with the project owners and financiers is to let them know as soon as you can that delays may be in the project’s future. In most project contracts, there’s a clause that absolves installers from liabilities should Mother Nature decide to intervene in the project (depending on the severity of the delays). Financiers will frequently absorb the costs in that case, but it will build trust with them if they don’t suffer unnecessary surprises.

2)   Accelerate the project timeline. If you are looking at a project and realize weather is going to affect either the beginning or end of a project, speeding up the project timeline can alleviate the problem. After all, no one has ever gotten in trouble for finishing a project ahead of schedule (if the weather is expected at the end) or on time (even if you have to work around the clock to make sure you hit your deliverables). It may require you to hire more workers, extend shifts or find some way to ensure the project pace increases. Once you determine the method, look at your own balance sheet. Can you absorb the costs of the delay or will you have to pass them on to the client? No matter which path you choose, close coordination among the project owners, financiers, vendors and any involved utilities is essential.

If you worry that these strategies could put your business at risk, there are other more formal ways of protecting yourself from the damages of weather-related delays, which we will discuss in the third installment of this series on Friday. Stay tuned!

Steve Crivelli is Conergy’s Director of Project Management and is based in Sacramento, California.