It isn’t easy to build a brand-new department. But Lynn Thompson, ECI’s very first Manager of Energy Storage Projects, is looking forward to the challenge.
An engineer with ECI for 5 years, Lynn hasn’t always designed power solutions. “My path to engineering was circuitous,” Lynn said. “I sampled and attained mastery of a few careers along the way. Five years of banking and a won trip to Japan for selling the most IRAs at 21 lead to enrolling in community college with an eye towards a speech/marketing career. My work study time in the computer lab led to a transfer into Computer Science at the University of Washington. The late, late nights writing code and lack of people contact landed me with the college counselor.” Her career interest survey gave her three job recommendations: pilot, police officer, or civil engineer. “I didn’t have 20/20 vision, so pilot was out,” Lynn said. “NCIS was over a decade into the future; otherwise forensic scientist would have trumped mom’s fears. First quarter of Pre-engineering courses, I was hooked and passionately enjoying a college education that led to a career where I get paid to solve puzzles!”
A few engineering jobs later that included work in hydrology, transportation, substations, and dam safety engineering, Lynn needed a change. “For my midlife crisis – yep, I admit, I had one of those – I took a break from engineering and utilities, taught sailing & power boating for six months as Captain Lynn while I obtained a Project Management Certification from the University of Washington.” A LinkedIn message from Vince Kopriva and Lonnie Wilbanks in ECI’s Phoenix office landed Lynn back in engineering. “My passion for engineering was renewed. I moved to Phoenix, committing to three years away from the sea,” Lynn said.
For the unacquainted, let’s talk about what energy storage actually is. As renewable energy grows, a fundamental question surrounding the industry lies in the power sources’ unpredictability: if it’s dark outside at a solar field, or there’s no wind blowing at a wind farm, how do renewable energy customers retain reliable power? Battery energy storage systems (BESS) is one answer. BESS facilities are designed alongside renewable energy facilities to capture energy and store it for future use. So, when immediate power from wind farms or solar fields isn’t available, BESS facilities can be employed to keep steady power to their customers! As the renewable energy field rapidly expands, so too does the demand for BESS facilities. Enter Lynn Thompson and her team.
Though the role of Manager of Energy Storage may be new to Lynn, BESS work isn’t new. “My project management of substation engineering projects and a smattering of special assignments have led to a deeper understanding of electrical engineering and developing BESS expertise,” says Lynn. Her first BESS project involved siting, foundation design, and sealant solutions for a battery design by Sumitomo Corporation and San Diego Gas & Electric. From there, the storage projects Lynn’s worked on have only gotten bigger: Blythe Solar BESS and Manatee BESS, two recent ECI projects, are among the largest energy storage projects in the nation.
Lynn already has a checklist of goals when it comes to leading ECI’s energy storage efforts: “My short term goals in my new position are to develop standards for ECI designed BESS projects that have an unified presentation regardless of office assignment; optimize design efficiencies; clarify QC process to be in alignment with ECI’s Quality Assurance program; identify & develop dedicated core Energy Storage design teams to meet the exponential demand for resources; and work with our EPCS teams to optimize designs for cost effective, full spectrum services,” she said. “My long term goals include the development of new business with existing and new clients; expanding our portfolio to warrant additional dedicated ES teams; develop ECI expertise for assessment and procurement of battery components and systems to assist clients and EPCS projects; increase the ECI footprint within the Energy Storage industry platform at conferences and vigorously take on what is yet to unfold.”
Her passion for her work at ECI only grows stronger with her new role as well. “My loyalty and dedication to contributing to the collective Engineering with Distinction deepens due to the talented colleagues I have the privilege to work with, engaged clients, and challenging projects,” she said.
Lynn is as tenacious in her outside hobbies as she is at work. “Outside work, I’m an adventurer at many levels,” Lynn said. “From traveling to new and loved destinations, fine tuning my ballroom dancing skills, sailing in known and unknown waters, virtual travel at the favor of my AirBnB guests or a recent renewed interest in equestrian sports.”
Lynn, congratulations on your new role! The future of energy storage here at ECI is looking bright.