The Early Days of Irby

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Irby Construction. This remarkable milestone prompts us to look back before we look forward, to remember where our company has been. What began as a little company with promise during wartime in America is now a stronger organization than it has ever been thanks to the legacy and the people that came before us.

Stuart C. Irby Co. weathered the war with a handful of jobs that included building electrical power lines and systems for a handful of military camps and bases. The company also installed lines for private power companies and the Rural Electrification Administration. 

By 1946, people and businesses were ready to move from a wartime to a peacetime economy and return to a more normal life. Stuart C. Irby Co. had completed work far beyond its Mississippi roots, including contracts in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. In an optimistic America, fresh from winning a global conflict, there was the promise of more, similar work to come. 

By now, it was clear to Stuart C. Irby that the construction part of his business offered opportunities to grow. More and more electric power lines would be necessary to sustain the nation’s post-war growth, he realized. He also decided to separate the company’s wholesale electrical supply business and the construction business. The Charter of Incorporation for Irby Construction Company was issued on July 1, 1946. 

But manpower was scarce, and materials were, too. Wire shortages in the wake of the war created project hold ups for the new company. Financing construction projects was also a challenge. Junius Robinson, a long-time Irby accounting employee, was quoted as follows in the Stuart C. Irby Biography. 

“Irby Construction Co. had a pretty tough go at in the early years in financing the projects until they were completed. Supplies had to be bought and payrolls had to be met. Stuart C. Irby Co. was at one time a principal source of financing for Irby Construction Co. This seems ironic in the light of the construction company’s explosive growth in the 1960s and 1970s,” Robinson said.

“Each year the construction company did a little more business than the year before. The company was constantly having to expand and re-invest its profits in its own operation. No dividends were paid. Mr. Irby had a drawing account for many years, and he would leave his salary in the company to help finance it. He drew just enough to cover his bare living expenses.”    

Despite those early struggles, Stuart C. Irby, Sr. recognized that post-war growth would mean more power lines would have to be built. This would mark the official beginning of the Irby Construction Co. story.

The full story of Irby’s 75 years will soon be printed in a hard-bound book. In the meantime, view our anniversary video.

Linemen, and Logs, and Bears – Oh my!

Antlers, Oklahoma is known as the deer capital of the world. This year, the Deer Capital Tourism Association sought to promote economic growth in Antlers, Pushmataha county, and Oklahoma at large through a special event, but needed some specialized help to make it happen. They needed to set an 8,000 lb wooden log in place so that it could be carved by a chainsaw artist.

Mike Anglum and his crew from job 2632 in Antlers have become a staple in the community over the last two years, so they were called upon to help! While it may not have been a transmission or distribution pole, our guys knew just what to do. Kosal Phok, Richard Haigwood, Cleveland Freeman, and Edward Avila set the log in place. Then, chainsaw artist Scott Winford skillfully carved the wood into the shape of a bear. Pictured below with the finished product are Mike Anglum, Andrew Mack, Scott Winford, and Verne Jackson.

Manatee Battery Energy Storage Center 75% Complete

Manatee Battery Energy Storage Center 75% Complete

Manatee Battery Energy Storage Center 75% Complete

On August 12, 2021, Florida Power and Light released an update on the progress of construction at the Manatee Battery Energy Storage Center project. Fox 13 Tampa Bay ran a related story giving viewers a video tour of the work in progress. Watch the story here. Written news stories also appeared on the Power Engineering website and in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

When complete the battery system will consist of 132 energy storage containers organized across a 40-acre plot of land that’s the size of 30 football fields. The FPL release explains that the first of more than 50,000 battery modules have been installed. Each battery module can store the equivalent of 2,000 iPhone batteries. When complete the Manatee Energy Storage Center is set to have a 409-megawatt (MW) capacity, delivering 900 megawatt-hours (MWh) of solar energy – enough to power approximately 329,000 homes for more than two hours.

Completion will also allow FPL to retire the existing power plant in Manatee County. The project is expected to save $50 million and reduce 1 million tons of carbon.

Irby Construction is proud to be a part of this monumental project and its continued partnership with FPL. The scope of our work at Manatee Battery Energy Storage Center is detailed in our project profile.

Featured photo courtesy of FPL

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One Way or Another Upgrades are on the Horizon.

One Way or Another Upgrades are on the Horizon.

One Way or Another Upgrades are on the Horizon.

A story published yesterday in The New York Times covers the evolving conversation around exactly how we upgrade the nation’s utility grid. President Biden and energy companies are pushing for new transmission lines to carry clean energy from solar and wind generation. Others suggest that the construction of more solar panels, batteries, and other localized energy sources is a better path.

Everyone agrees upgrades, action, and construction are necessary. The conversation centers around speed, cost, and exactly what infrastructure will serve the country best in the long term.

Whether building transmission lines or battery storage plants, Irby Construction is contributing to the cause of a reliable, resilient, and robust future for our electric grid.

In June the Biden administration secured $73 billion for thousands of miles of new power lines in an infrastructure proposal the president and senators from both parties agreed to.

Read the full New York Times story here.

The Nation’s Grid is Stressed by Summer Demand

The Nation’s Grid is Stressed by Summer Demand

The Nation’s Grid is Stressed by Summer Demand

A story published today in The Seattle Times covers a series of recent outages across the country starting with a heatwave that left thousands without power in  Washington state on Monday. There were also blackouts in Idaho, Oregon, California, and Nevada. And just two weeks ago the Texas grid struggled again in its own heatwave, just four months after the February freeze shut it down.

Our nation’s grid is struggling. So now what? The Seatle Times story quotes the Energy Secretary. “We need to jam on the accelerator here,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at a panel discussion earlier this spring. “We’ve got to make sure the capacity is there on the grid.”

The central issue is congestion along transmission lines that bring power from where it’s made to where it’s wanted. Until long-distance transmission lines are enhanced, utilities will have to find ways to manage increased demand.

Transmission construction, upgrades, and maintenance have always been at the core of Irby’s service offering. We’re at the ready to upgrade and expand the grid to serve modern capacity.

Read the full Seatle Times story here. 

Battery Unit Installations Underway at Manatee

Battery Unit Installations Underway at Manatee

Battery Unit Installations Underway at Manatee

On June 23, 2021, Power Engineering published a story on their website featuring an update on the construction progress being made at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) Manatee Battery Storage Project. The FPL release on which the story is based marks the milestone of the first battery storage unit installations. When complete, the facility will be the largest solar power-battery storage facility in the world. Irby expects to complete construction later this year.

The article includes some fun facts about the recently installed storage container which is the first of 132 units to be installed. For example, each unit holds approximately 400 battery units and weighs approximately 38 tons. And each battery module is the equivalent of about 2,000 iPhone batteries. The units will store the extra solar energy produced by the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center.

FPL announced the project in March of 2019. Read about the project scope and details in their release.

Irby’s scope of work is detailed in our project profile. You can also see additional news media coverage on the project in Energy Storage News, Power Magazine, and Daily Energy Insider.

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