West Hills Construction to develop 20-MW of rooftop solar tracker projects

West Hills Construction, a fourth-generation family owned design/build general construction firm, is developing up to 20 MW of commercial and industrial rooftop solar projects utilizing Edisun’s rooftop tracking technology, PV Booster. The first project developed under this partnership is a 1 MW solar array installed on 368,000 square feet of a 528,000 square foot cold storage industrial building in Oxnard, Calif. The project utilizes more than 2,900 trackers, making it the world’s largest rooftop tracker installation.

Edsiun Microgrids_Chiquita_WestHills_Installation

PV Booster is the only dual-axis rooftop solar tracker specifically designed to meet the needs of C&I building owners and solar developers. By tracking the sun throughout the day, Edisun says PV Booster increases energy production by 30 percent and enhances project economics by 20 percent when compared to conventional fixed-tilt installations.

“The West Hills team is dedicated to finding and implementing technologies that meet our impeccable standards for craftsmanship while improving our customers’ bottom lines,” said Rusty Wood, vice president, West Hills Construction, Inc. “Over the last decade we have explored numerous solutions that promise to optimize rooftop solar at the commercial and industrial scale. PV Booster is the only technology actually able to accomplish this objective, and we’re excited to share it with our customers.”


“Partnering with a visionary company such as West Hills, which has built more than 10 million square feet of real estate and is an expert in construction and solar installation, is the first of many exciting growth milestones for Edisun,” said Bill Gross, chief executive officer, Edisun Microgrids, Inc. and founder, Idealab. “PV Booster’s technology fundamentally improves the economics of rooftop solar for developers, installers, building owners, and tenants, which aligns with our core mission to revolutionize the economics of solar. We believe this increase in the value of solar projects, such as Chiquita’s Oxnard installation, will be the catalyst for the widespread adoption of solar in the C&I sector.”

Project commissioning is expected in Fall 2017.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tech CU offers new program to finance commercial solar projects up to $2 million, no money down

solar commercial loan financing

Tech CU (Technology Credit Union), in conjunction with Belvedere Solar Finance, is introducing a solar financing program for its commercial, non-profit and government members. The program will allow members to finance solar systems ranging in price from $100,000 to $2 million with no money down. All financing will be structured so that savings from solar will cover the cost of the financing over time.

“Earlier this year, Tech CU made a strong commitment to fund residential solar loans. However, we quickly realized there was a need to fund solar for our commercial, non-profit and government members as well,” said Joe Anzalone, Chief Commercial Banking Officer of Tech CU. “We began looking for a partner who could help us structure financing that takes into account each member’s unique situation, cash flow objectives, and ability to use the tax benefits associated with solar. Having successfully worked with the Belvedere principals before, I was confident we could meet these requirements and more.”

The new solar financing program will offer a range of financing alternatives including:
• Leases: For commercial entities unable to use solar tax benefits.
• Loans: For commercial entities who can use solar tax benefits, and for non-profits ineligible for tax benefits.
• Tax-exempt leases: Designed specifically for government entities.

“Installing solar will allow members to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, insure against rapidly rising electricity costs, and dramatically reduce electricity costs,” said Dick Leask, president of Belvedere Solar Finance, a Richmond-based company. The company has been working with California community banks and credit unions since 2006 to offer solar financing for commercial, non-profit and government solar installations. “We have structured more than $100 million in solar leases and loans, and users invariably enjoy dramatic cost savings. We’re looking forward to helping Tech CU’s members.”

“At Tech CU, respecting our environment and embracing green energy alternatives has always been a focus,” said Todd Harris, CEO of Tech CU. “Over the past few years, we’ve added solar to our own office environment – shrinking our non-renewable energy consumption by nearly 30 percent. We look forward to helping other businesses achieve similar results and enjoy the cost savings of solar.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Watch: Solar Optimum adds 780-kW SunPower system across Laguna Woods Village

SunPower Elite Dealer Solar Optimum is helping Orange County’s premier senior living community Laguna Woods Village embrace energy efficiency by installing an aggregate total of approximately 780 kW DC, producing 1,337,333 kWH, offsetting the common area load that the community was paying high Southern California Edison electricity bills for. This “Best in Class” project is the largest SunPower Helix project interconnected in the west coast in 2017.

The project consists of 12 buildings which were occupied while the work was performed and Solar Optimum used the SunPower Helix dual tilt PV solar system, which notably is the highest density solar system on the market today. The cutting-edge technology sped up the process and Solar Optimum’s rigorous safety measures made it possible to install while tenants occupied the facilities.

This was the most complicated virtual net metering project ever processed by Southern California Edison with over 550 benefiting meters offset by 800 kW on 12 sites. A typical virtual net metering project has a mere 10 to 20 meters with just one rather than 12 connection points. Southern California Edison requires meters to be lined up with parcels. “With such a large project, it was like a Rubik’s cube lining it all up. All sides are green now,” exclaims Gene Okun, Solar Optimum’s commercial project manager.

“Our goal was to get the project installed to meet the looming net metering 1.0 deadline, when rates on solar energy credit would rise and cost the community an additional $15,000 per month in meter fees,” says Gene Okun. “Solar Optimum and SunPower managed the deadline successfully, despite the size and complexity of the project. We are pleased with the results.”

The Solar Optimum team had to tackle the small sizes of the host buildings which made power density critical. “We were originally planning for 16 buildings as host sites, but the SunPower Helix system made it possible for us to get all that power in 12 buildings,” says Bill McNeese, director of business development at Solar Optimum. “This gave us the competitive advantage, reducing the number of roofs needing to be replaced by the community. When the cost-benefit analysis was complete, the board unanimously selected Solar Optimum and SunPower Helix.”

“We realized that Laguna Woods Village had other very competitive proposals but were confident in our ability to deliver the project within the tight timeframe despite its complexities and engineering challenges,” says Gene Okun. “With the success of Laguna Woods Village, we look forward to expanding our commercial portfolio and taking on new challenges in the Southern California market.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Home Depot to add rooftop solar systems to 50 store locations

home depot solar

The Home Depot will be adding PV systems at 50 of its stores as part of a continued alternative energy portfolio expansion. The average store roof, at approximately 104,000 square feet, will accommodate 1,000 panels, and the project is estimated to reduce electricity grid demand by 30 to 35 percent annually at each Home Depot store.

The Home Depot is working with Current, powered by GE, on 20 solar installations at stores in New Jersey, as well as eight stores in Connecticut, Maryland and Washington, DC. An additional 22 stores in California and New York will receive solar, of which six will utilize Tesla Power-packs to store energy and dispatch additional power as needed.

“Our alternative energy projects are important elements of our sustainability and operations ef-forts as they reduce carbon emissions while also lowering our energy costs,” said David Hawkins, vice president of labor and operations for The Home Depot.

Urban Planning: Commercial rooftops are biggest void, opportunity in solar

The company’s current alternative and renewable portfolio includes:

• Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in Delaware and Massachusetts
• Fuel cells at more than 170 stores and distribution centers
• The Los Mirasoles Wind Farm northeast of McAllen, Texas, announced this Janu-ary
• The Zopiloapan Wind Farm located in central Mexico, added this June

The solar addition will bring the company’s alternative energy footprint to more than 130 mega-watts (MW) as it pursues the goal of utilizing 135 MW of alternative and renewable energy by 2020. Construction on the selected stores will continue throughout 2017.

— Solar Builder magazine

PG&E to fund $10.3 million in new multifamily rooftop solar projects

Pacific Gas & Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is making $10.3 million available for the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program, which offers rebates for affordable solar energy to families in disadvantaged communities across Northern and Central California. Supported by the MASH program, solar energy can lower monthly energy costs for tenants, improve the quality of low-income multifamily housing and drive more clean energy in the state.

Through the MASH program, PG&E offsets the costs of installing new solar energy systems on multifamily affordable housing buildings, providing clean energy for tenants as well as in common areas like hallways, stairwells and laundry rooms. On average, the program financially supports about 40 percent of the solar system equipment and installation for an apartment building.

In addition to expanding solar energy in disadvantaged communities, the MASH program also increases job training in the clean energy industry by requiring at least one trainee work on each project.

Since it started in 2008, the program has:

• Directly benefitted more than 3,600 families across Northern and Central California
• Provided $33 million in funding for rooftop solar on multifamily buildings like apartments and condos
• Supplied about 15 megawatts of solar energy, equivalent to powering more than 6,000 homes

How the program works

Typically, solar contractors apply for the MASH program on behalf of property owners of multifamily developments in disadvantaged communities. After the solar system is installed, the MASH program provides financial rebates based on the size of the system and how much of the solar energy is allocated to tenants. The benefits of solar can be split among the tenants and common areas, with residents seeing lower monthly bills as they use solar for electricity during the day.

Any building with customers participating in the MASH program are required to go through an energy efficiency audit to ensure their facility is energy efficient before going solar, which can save money in upfront costs by allowing for smaller solar systems. Additionally, tenants are informed of energy efficiency programs they may be eligible for, such as PG&E’s Energy Savings Assistance Program that offers free energy-saving improvements for customers on PG&E’s California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program.

The end of net metering? Report sums up movement to new solar compensation plans

— Solar Builder magazine