PCI Solar completes final solar installation of Dallas-area apartment complex

PCI Solar

PCI Solar, in partnership with Green Mountain Energy, has completed construction on the fourth and final rooftop solar installation for AMLI Residential at its Dallas-area apartment communities. The projects, part of a sustainability initiative between AMLI and Green Mountain Energy, total 445 kilowatts (kW). AMLI is also purchasing 100 percent renewable energy for all of the common areas at its apartment communities in Dallas and Houston from Green Mountain Energy.

The Dallas-area projects are located at AMLI at the Ballpark, Campion Trail, AMLI Frisco Crossing and AMLI West Plano apartment communities.

PCI constructed the projects in a staged process, beginning in November 2017 and ending a year later. The four projects combined are expected to generate 20 percent of common area electric use at each community.

The sustainability initiative marks a dramatic step in AMLI’s commitment to making its communities increasingly more sustainable. By moving its more than 20 communities in the Texas competitive electricity market to 100 percent renewable energy, AMLI is expected to offset more than 20.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year, which is the equivalent of planting 2,300 trees or taking 2,100 cars off the road for a year.

“We are proud to partner with AMLI in making their communities more sustainable and help them take this important step in providing clean energy to power their apartment community common areas,” said Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager of Green Mountain Energy.

— Solar Builder magazine

PCI Solar develops solar 1.8-MW project at brownfield site in Wasco, Calif.

PCI Solar

PCI Solar has completed construction of a 1.8-MW solar array for the City of Wasco in California. The project, developed by Siemens, is part of California’s RES-BCT program, which allows a local government with one or more eligible renewable generating facilities to export energy to the grid and receive generation credits to benefitting accounts of the same Local Government. The energy from the array will virtually offset some of the energy from various buildings operated by the City of Wasco.

The project is located on a previous landfill site and is a brownfield development. The 1.8 MW of DC power will be provided by (5346) Silfab 345 watt panels and utilize (27) ABB Trio 50 KW inverters. So as not to disturb the soil, the panels were mounted on a GameChange ballasted racking systems and surrounded by a ballasted protective fence.

— Solar Builder magazine

Merced City Schools adding a 1.5-MW solar portfolio via PCI Solar, NextEra Energy

PCI solar project

PCI Solar, in partnership with NextEra Energy, has begun construction on a solar portfolio for Merced City Schools District (MCSD) in California.

MCSD secured grant funding through the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39), and released a Request for Proposal to provide solar shade structures at nine of their schools and one maintenance facility. MCSD’s goal is to save money on energy costs while providing much needed shade around playground areas and other key locations. MCSD worked with Terraverde Renewable Partners to help develop the project and formulate the RFP.

PCI Solar and NextEra Energy responded to the competitive RFP and subsequently won the project. NextEra provided the power purchase agreement and PCI Solar’s award- winning team began construction on September 1st.

The project consists of 17 shade structures ranging from 78-kW to 272-kW at 10 different sites, totaling 1.5-MW DC. The carport structures are designed, manufactured and installed by MBL, with Hanwha Q Cells 335 watt photovoltaic modules and Sungrow string inverters.

The projects are expected to be complete before the end of the year.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar Builder 2017-06-19 16:15:39

Historic funeral business leaps into 21st century with rooftop solar arrays on seven locations

freedom solar installation

Freedom Solar recently installed more than 530 kilowatts of solar power on seven locations of Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries, the largest and oldest privately owned funeral company in San Antonio.

Powered by 1,634 high-efficiency solar panels, the new solar projects will offset more than 55 percent of Mission Park’s electricity needs at the seven locations: two mortuaries (Oak Hill and Palm Heights), its corporate office, three funeral chapels and cemeteries (North, South, and Dominion), and its funeral home (Brookehill).

The entire system is expected to pay for itself in less than four and a half years. A generous local utility rebate covered roughly 46 percent of total system costs. Mission Park will also receive the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for 30 percent of the project’s total cost, saving the company a total of 76 percent.

Annually, Mission Park’s solar arrays will produce 778,735 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which will offset more than 547 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. Because funeral homes operate 24 hours a day seven days a week, electric bills are a large portion of their operating costs. Mission Park’s project features SunPower 327-watt solar panels, which are the most efficient available today, with unmatched reliability and an expected life of more than 40 years. Freedom Solar Power is a SunPower Master Dealer, the only company with that distinction in Texas.

Once the first phase (the initial seven locations) of Mission Park’s solar project has paid for itself, Tips will begin phase two and have Freedom Solar design and install solar arrays on another set of its locations.

Austin Independent School District adds 600 kW rooftop system

PCI Solar is installing a 600 kilowatt portfolio of rooftop solar for Austin Independent School District (AISD), as well as providing classroom instruction to Austin High School engineering students interested in careers in solar. Austin High is one of the AISD schools receiving a solar energy system, and invited PCI to speak with interested students, some of whom have solar on their homes. PCI Solar staff provided an overview of how solar energy works, the economic case for solar, and the various types of careers in solar energy.

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“We were really impressed at the knowledge level of these students regarding energy in general and solar specifically,” said Mark Hilpert with PCI. “They asked good questions and had a knowledge far beyond what I had at their age. If these sorts of kids join our industry, we will be fortunate.”

PCI staff and the students discussed a variety of issues including the differences between ground mount, rooftop and carport solar, and the different market opportunities between residential, commercial, and utility scale solar. An informal poll of the students indicated that at least 25 percent of them were actively considering a career in renewable energy.

PCI is nearing completion on the AISD portfolio, which was won through a public competitive bid process. AISD valued PCI’s experience building solar for other school districts, including Alamo Heights Independent School District in San Antonio, TX and Petaluma City Schools in California.


ReVision Energy, Quest Renewables design solar canopy atop Portland, Maine garage

revision parking canopy

ReVision Energy, in partnership with Quest Renewables, recently completed the installation of a 193.63-kW QuadPod solar canopy system atop Portland, Maine’s Fore Street Garage. The system has been producing power since late May. Fore Street Garage is owned by ReVision Energy’s customer, East Brown Cow Management Company.

The installation marks the first commercial solar parking garage canopy in the state of Maine. The solar parking garage canopy on the top level of the Fore Street Garage provides shaded parking and cover from the elements for vehicles and provides clean, local, renewable energy to the Hyatt Place. The 193.63kW solar array consists of 578 individual panels wired to seven grid tied inverters and mounted to an advanced long span solar canopy structure.

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The system was designed by Quest Renewables and features seven of their QuadPod solar canopies. To accommodate the addition of the system atop the parking garage, engineers designed it to integrate into the garage with minimal disruption during construction. 90% of QuadPod’s construction activity, including assembly, wiring and lighting, takes place on the ground. After assembly, wiring and lighting, the solar canopies are lifted by crane for final installation, minimizing overhead work and optimizing worksite safety. Worksites are safer and more efficient with construction crews working on the ground.

The power generated by the system will offset energy used by the garage and the Hyatt Place, also owned by East Brown Cow Management Company. The 578 solar panels atop the system will produce an estimated 232,235 kWh of clean, renewable energy each year for decades to come, offsetting over 23 percentof the hotel’s historical electrical consumption. Over its lifetime, this system will eliminate 7 million pounds of CO2 pollution. The array is grid-tied, and feeds into the utility grid anytime it’s making more energy than is being consumed on site. Solar energy is eligible for a federal tax credit, worth 30% of the total project cost.

How Temple Beth Elohim Wellesley financed solar energy for its synagogue

Temple Beth Elohim, a Wellesley-based Reform congregation, has joined with Solect Energy and PowerOptions of Boston, to install a 37-kW solar energy system on the roof of its synagogue. The solar array is a significant addition to the congregation’s efforts toward

As a nonprofit that is unable to benefit from renewable energy federal and state tax incentives, the Temple faced a number of options for financing and installing the solar array. After comparing rooftop solar opportunities from different vendors, a team of congregants, staff and clergy at Temple Beth Elohim selected Solect’s small systems solar program with PowerOptions.

Under the program, Solect installs, owns, and operates the solar arrays on the Temple’s roof, and sells the power generated under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) at a fixed rate for a period of 20 years. However, completing the transaction was not as straightforward as in many other towns. Solar generation works differently under municipal utilities than it does in an investor-owned territory with utilities like Eversource and National Grid. Wellesley is one of 41 towns in Massachusetts that purchase power from the electric utility owned by the municipality, in this case, the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (“WMLP”).

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Massachusetts laws require the utility to be the reseller of power to its customers within the town boundaries. Making the array a reality required a PPA with the WMLP. Under the agreement, the power generated from the array is purchased by the WMLP, who then sells it to the Temple.

“Creating the contractual arrangement with the municipal electric utility requires an understanding of Massachusetts laws and maintaining a focus on value for the customer,” said Kevin Sullivan, Assistant Superintendent for the WMLP. “It required hard work and collaboration from a number of different parties to develop this innovative solution, and I’m thrilled we made it work for the congregation.”

Nexamp Powers Up Community Solar  in Massachusetts

Nexamp logo

Nexamp sent word that it completed a 700-kW facility located in Fitchburg, Mass., that is the first community solar project to serve Unitil customers in Massachusetts and will provide local residents and small businesses with access to the benefits of solar energy for the first time.

Through Nexamp’s innovative Solarize My Bill community solar program, participating Unitil customers, many of whom were previously unable to install solar panels on their own property, are now seeing reduced electricity charges through their subscription to the Fitchburg Solar project. In addition, the neighboring Town of Lunenburg will realize substantial energy cost savings through a long-term agreement to purchase discounted energy credits generated by the project. Together, the Town of Lunenburg and Nexamp’s Solarize My Bill customers are expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars through their participation in the project.

“Lunenburg has enjoyed a very beneficial relationship with Nexamp,” said Phyllis Luck, Board of Selectman, Town of Lunenburg. “In addition to the Town’s net metering agreement, which is expected to generate over $600,000 in utility cost savings over the next 20 years, Nexamp has extended the partnership to include our Town’s residents, who remain keenly interested in community solar. In fact, Nexamp enrolled nearly 40 Lunenburg households in two weeks’ time to theirSolarize My Bill community solar program and these residents should save over $275,000 in electricity costs over the term of their subscriptions with Nexamp.”

The project is situated on land towards the rear of an active apple orchard in Fitchburg, providing the landowners with a reliable source of ground lease income that will help keep the orchard operational and enable it to offset nearly all of its energy needs from local renewable resources.

Fitchburg Solar is one of 17 community solar facilities that Nexamp has constructed and expects to achieve operations in the coming months.

Three takeaways from SEPA’s community solar report

— Solar Builder magazine

Top 6 Solar Projects of the Week (Oct. 10 – Oct. 14)

solect solar commercial install

New England Apple Installs 300-kW Solar System via Solect Energy

New England Apple Products, the largest cider mill in New England and an industry veteran for more than a hundred years, has partnered with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Mass., to install a 300-kW solar energy system on the roof of its Leominster facility. The solar array is expected to cover approximately 90 percent of the company’s annual electricity use.

New England Apple has been grinding and squeezing apples in the area since before the advent of modern electricity, adapting over the years in a variety of ways. Aware of the environmental benefits, and with key partners successfully going solar, the company opted to invest in a system for their own operations.
New England Apple Products is projected to save $40,000 annually on its electricity bill, and is able to take advantage of state and federal tax and financial incentives, including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are financial incentives based on the amount of solar energy the system generates.

RELATED: Load Warriors: Experts discuss rooftop ballast installation best practices 


Merril Farms adds 1.6-MW system while preserving acreage

Merrill Farms, a fourth-generation Salinas, Calif., vegetable and berry grower, is going to generate approximately $60,000 per acre of revenue annually and achieve gross energy savings of approximately $12 million over 25 years thanks to a solar system just installed by Alta Energy. Alta Energy worked with Merrill Farms to site the solar systems on mostly unproductive areas of two ranches in order to preserve as much fertile acreage for crop production as possible.

ALTA EnergyThe combined size of the solar systems at Merrill Farms will be 1.6 MW and will offset nearly 80 percent of the electricity consumption on two large growing sites. The systems will utilize just six acres of farmland, most of which is unproductive, at these ranches.

“My family has been stewards of the land since 1933,” said Ross Merrill, CEO of Merrill Farms. “We intend to continue this tradition using best practices and new technologies. When I sat down with the Alta Energy team, they analyzed 13 of our growing operations and facilities, went through their financial analysis of our solar potential and identified the optimal sites. After this analysis, I saw clearly that solar was a ‘no brainer’ for our growing operations. Alta Energy cut through the complexity of all the variables in a solar project, showed us various trade-offs and options, explained ways to complete the projects efficiently and profitably, and expedited the deployment process.”

Merrill Farms gained further financial benefits by utilizing the 30 percent federal Income Tax Credit and accelerated depreciation, and choosing a financing structure that required virtually no money down and a loan that will be paid off by the energy savings.

Alta Energy is an independent renewable energy analytics and procurement company that enables commercial farmers to identify and complete cost-effective renewable energy projects with confidence.

RELATED: Understanding a PPA 

Two Vermont municipal electric departments going solar

Encore renewable energyEncore Renewable Energy announced the commissioning of two separate 1.4-MWp solar arrays for the Town of Stowe Electric Department and Village of Hyde Park Electric Department, respectively. Both projects were financed with low interest debt under the US Treasury Department’s Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program.

The low cost of capital associated with the CREBs financing, along with cost savings afforded by the concurrent development and construction of the two projects, will allow both municipal electric departments to own these assets at generation costs well below market rates for Purchase Power Agreements for similarly sized third-party owned projects. The projects will also afford both utilities with protection against compliance payments under the State of Vermont’s recently enacted Renewable Energy Standard.

“I reached out to Encore Renewable Energy early in the concept phase of the project and they worked diligently with The Village of Hyde Park toward completing the project development process and without cost to the Village to find the best site possible for our solar project and subsequently to support the public approval process for the project,” said Carol Robertson, General Manager of The Village of Hyde Park.

Encore was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the projects including siting, design, permitting, financing, construction and commissioning activities. Encore also ran a competitive auction process to secure the most qualified construction contractor at the lowest price possible for both projects. The Stowe project is sited on an abandoned portion of the Town of Stowe gravel pit.

RELATED: Beyond the rooftop: How offsite PPAs change the game for solar professionals 


PCI solar rooftop

PCI Solar completes three PV projects for Holt of California

PCI Solar completed three solar electric systems for Holt of California and Amec Foster Wheeler. The systems, totaling 125 kW and located at Holt’s locations in Vacaville, Roseville, and Pleasant Grove, were designed to offset a large majority of each facilities’ electrical usage. Amec Foster Wheeler developed the project and assisted in preliminary research and design. PCI Solar is a division of Performance Contracting Group, a specialty building contractor with over $1 Billion in annual revenues.

The system in Vacaville consists of 114 Renesola 310 watt modules mounted on a standing seam roof with no roof penetrations. The southern facing half of the system is flush mounted to the standing seam while the other half is tilted up on the northern side to face south. Solectria inverters convert the DC electricity to AC.

The system at Roseville utilized the same number of modules as Pleasant Grove. It included a ballast mount tilt up system, but also incorporated a flush mounted section on the curved standing seam roof. Pleasant Grove utilized a ballasted tilt up solution that did not penetrate the roof. The system is composed of 144 Renesola 310 watt modules.

These three projects are the first phase roll-out of solar for Holt of California. Holt and Amec Foster Wheeler plan to build two more phases of solar projects in order to offset the majority of Holt’s electricity usage statewide.

RELATED: How many states make economic sense for commercial energy storage right now? 

UET battery microgridPowerful solar+storage microgrid installed at Naval base

Long-term energy resiliency has been achieved at Naval Base Ventura County at Port Hueneme, Calif., after the installation of UniEnergy Technologies’ (UET) grid-scale advanced vanadium flow battery. The renewable energy generation and storage project supports a U.S. military strategic effort to implement renewable energy and greater energy security across its operations.

The solar-plus-storage project includes a 6-MW solar installation combined with a 4.5-MW/18 mMWh UET UniSystem in a microgrid. In return for a low-cost land lease of 44 acres on Navy property, the Navy has the right to utilize the power, energy and other attributes of the storage-enabled microgrid in the event of a grid outage, to support critical loads, even if an outage extends weeks or months, without requiring external fuel supplies. Under normal grid operations, the solar and storage capacity generated by the microgrid will be purchased by a third party off-taker. In addition to providing the energy storage system, UET will own and operate the facility working closely with the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO).

UET provides turn-key, megawatt-scale energy storage solutions that deliver the full range of power and energy applications for military, utility, independent power producer, microgrid and commercial and industrial customers.

RELATED: Solar-plus-storage solutions for homes to microgrids


solect solar install YMCA

YMCA enters PPA with Solect Energy

The Clark Memorial YMCA has partnered with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Mass., and PowerOptions of Boston to install two solar energy systems totaling 275 kW on the roof of its fieldhouse and main building in Winchendon. The solar arrays are expected to cover over 80 percent of the facility’s annual electricity use, and save the organization over $18,000 a year. Clark Memorial YMCA and Solect entered into a Power Purchase Agreement under which Solect owns and operates the solar array, and sells the power generated back to the organization at a reduced, fixed rate for a period of 20 years.

Prior to installing solar, the Clark Memorial YMCA had been doing its part to become more environmentally sustainable by encouraging recycling, conserving energy with responsible use policies, and recently converting the entire facility to LED lighting. The addition of solar is a significant step forward in the organization’s green initiatives.

In addition to this project, the Clark Y is also considering exploring further renewable energy initiatives, with the hopes of building a new youth center on campus powered by solar energy, as well as exploring ways to implement solar heating for their swimming pool, and water supply.

RELATED: Tips for planning your next retail PV project 

— Solar Builder magazine