Details on 7.5-MW solar project at Sacramento International Airport

SMA Inverter at SMF

The Sacramento International Airport (SMF) added 7.9 MW of solar energy generation across two sites: A 15-acre plot near the airport’s economy parking lot, and a 20-acre location north of the runway. Borrego Solar, a top commercial solar company that specializes in designing and constructing solar and energy storage projects, constructed the project with financing from NRG, which will own and operate the facility. NRG will sell electricity to SMF under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The SMF project consists of two SMA Sunny Central 2200-US inverters integrated with a Medium-Voltage Block, and three Sunny Central 800 CP-US inverters.

“We are pleased to partner with Borrego Solar to bring renewable energy to the Sacramento International Airport, which holds special meaning because our U.S. headquarters is located in the Sacramento region,” said Jim Crossen, general manager for SMA America. “With Sunny Central inverters delivering reliable, robust performance, we are confident that the airport –and those who utilize it –will see the benefits of solar energy.”

The system will offset 30 percent of SMF’s electricity use, providing cost savings of up to $850,000 per year over the 25-year PPA, and will also help the airport achieve environmental leadership in the region.

“SMA is a valuable partner, and we were glad to utilize the company’s exceptional technology and local expertise for this PV system,” said Aaron Hall, president of Borrego Solar Systems. “With the Sunny Central’s reliable performance and power production, we are confident the airport will see great savings with it solar investment.”

The project was completed and commissioned in December 2017.

— Solar Builder magazine

Hoosier Efficiency: Walk through the solar decision-making process with this Indiana homeowner

solar in bloomington

Bloomington, Ind., isn’t a typical solar energy hub, but homeowner Karim Abdelkader and Alex Jarvis, president of Solar Systems of Indiana, prove that it can be with the right customer and PV solution.

The goal for the Abdelkader family was to put panels on both their home and adjacent pool house, spanning over 4,000 sq ft to produce enough energy for both structures and the pool itself, offsetting their total energy usage by 80 percent. Abdelkader also wanted to be assured the panels would withstand the typical weather conditions in central Indiana (humid summers, snowy winters). What’s more, he wanted to install panels that would blend well with his home’s appearance.

PV solution: LG NeON R

For a savvy customer like this, the only option is a high-efficiency PV module that is reliable, durable and comes with a robust warranty. This led Jarvis and Abdelkader to install 58 LG NeON R panels to maximize the power output and cost-effectiveness.

“We started using LG about three years ago; they’re a great balance between efficiency and value,” Jarvis said. “I really like that LG is a globally diversified company. It’s a very stable and secure company that lends itself to an installer to put up equipment that we know will have support and project backing moving into the future.”

For starters, the LG NeON R produces 365 kW per hour (typical panels are about 350 kW per hour), which hit Abdelkader’s goal of offsetting energy by 80 percent despite the limited roof space available in this project.

Addressing Abdelkader’s concerns about durability and reliability, Jarvis explained the LG NeON R came with a 25-year labor and materials warranty that covered the panel if there were any issues. The warranty further ensured long-term stable operation, with a guarantee of at least 87.0 yield relative to initial performance after 25 years. The panels are also low maintenance, only requiring occasional routine cleaning.

“That was a key driver behind our decision — what does the warranty look like?” Abdelkader said.

The NeON R also has a black backing to better blend in with the roof line of the existing structures, maintaining the
aesthetic appeal of the home.

Project results

Construction was completed in October 2017 with the system expecting to yield an estimated 26,250 kWh/year. The installation was completed mid-month, but Abdelkader had already seen his full month energy bill cut in half. Bloomington’s net metering arrangement also allows Abdelkader to receive financial credit for the excess energy gained through the LG NeON R.

“The first month, Karim sent me a text and was very excited about how low his energy bill was,” Jarvis said. “Even without a full month of being energized the system has offset quite a bit, so solar has met his expectations and then some.”

— Solar Builder magazine

How RE-volv is working with students in the Midwest to install solar at nonprofits

revolv solar nonprofit

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Dayton in Ohio are working with the San Francisco-based nonprofit RE-volv to bring the power and benefits of solar energy to two local nonprofits: Mission of Mary Cooperative in Dayton, and Project Home in Madison.

“Working with RE-volv offers a fantastic way to empower community members to support clean energy while also helping nonprofits do their much-needed work. It’s a win-win,” said Adam Tholen, the project lead for UW-Madison students.

RE-volv is working in areas like Ohio and Wisconsin to help jumpstart the solar industry in swing states with little renewable energy presence. By partnering with nonprofits in these states, RE-volv is tapping into a web of communities involved with these organizations, and educating them about the benefits of clean, renewable solar energy.

An estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. face financial barriers to obtaining solar power, as they do not qualify for solar tax credits or are too small to attract traditional investors. RE-volv’s crowdfunded revolving fund helps bridge this financial gap for organizations that provide valuable public services to vulnerable communities, including homeless shelters, schools, community centers, and houses of worship.

“We want to be the first nonprofit in the City of Dayton to go net-zero, and hopefully light a fire and show people how to utilize renewable, clean energy in the city,” says Michael Schulz, executive director of Mission of Mary Cooperative and one of its Lay Marianist founders.

The Wisconsin and Ohio students join students from over a dozen schools nationwide who have participated in RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador Program, a year-long fellowship for young people who want to help a community-serving organization near their campus go solar. RE-volv trains ambassadors in crowdfunding, solar policy, community engagement, and project management. In turn, the Solar Ambassadors educate their campus communities about solar energy, develop a deep understanding of the energy sector, produce a tangible reduction in carbon emissions, and build a national network of environmental stewards.

“RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador program empowers college students to bring clean energy to their communities,” said Andreas Karelas, RE-volv’s founder and executive director. “America’s young people are looking for opportunities to take action on climate change while getting practical career experience. We’ve created a unique program that allows students to unlock their creativity and passion while becoming tomorrow’s clean energy leaders.”

To date, RE-volv has crowd funded 11 solar projects (150+ kW of capacity) in four states and has signed 17 solar leases in six states. Thanks to the solar installations, 11 nonprofits are expected to save between 15 and 50 percent on their electric bills. In total, they will save more than $1.5 million over the life of their solar energy systems. RE-volv’s solar revolving fund, the Solar Seed Fund, is now worth over $700,000 in future lease payments from these 11 projects. In turn, these payments will be used to finance at least 20 more solar energy projects.

— Solar Builder magazine

TerraSmart completes New York’s second largest solar project

Terrasmart 3

The second largest solar project in the state of New York, Shoreham Solar Commons, was completed last month by TerraSmart. Situated on a former golf course, Shoreham will produce 24.9 MW AC of photovoltaic energy for the town of Brookhaven assisting the local utility, Long Island Power Authority, in reaching New York’s 2030 fifty-percent clean energy goal.

TerraSmart was chosen by Shoreham’s general contractor, Eldor Electric, because of the velocity of its installation methods and the ability to save time and money on civil and site work. Unique in that Shoreham was built on a former golf course, the land had an intense irrigation system. TerraSmart’s unique steel forged tip on its ground screws penetrated through the irrigation lines thus saving time, money and eliminating the need for site grading. For Shoreham Solar Commons, TerraSmart combined its turnkey services of site surveying, foundation installation, ground screw installation and the Terrafarm racking system.


“There were many underground challenges for this project and TerraSmart’s dexterity to handle any unforeseen circumstances positioned us as the right choice when it came to mitigating any and all potential site uncertainties,” says TerraSmart CEO Ryan Reid. “With our ability to install faster and exceed the construction timeline, TerraSmart was pleased to have placed Shoreham Solar Commons ahead of schedule.”

Shoreham Solar Commons is situated on 150 acres of land that is now repurposed to produce clean energy for up to 3,500 homes in the town of Brookhaven while eliminating 29,000 tons of harmful greenhouse gas emissions per year.
For eight years, TerraSmart has been a leader in solar racking, engineering, design and manufacturing of turnkey, ground-mount racking solutions for commercial-to utility-scale solar projects. Bringing more than thirty years’ experience in structural engineering and steel fabrication, TerraSmart has built over 1.8 GW’s of ground mount projects across the United States.

TerraSmart’s innovative ground screw foundation and racking systems have transformed the solar industry by minimizing project risks, ensuring successful installation in all soil types and offering the most cost-effective solutions. For more information, visit

— Solar Builder magazine

RPCS completes 11 new solar tracker projects in Texas

RP construction services

RP Construction Services (RPCS) just completed 11 solar sites as part of a growing portfolio of projects in Texas for the Pedernales Electric Cooperative. RPCS, responsible for the portfolio’s solar tracker installation, partnered with site developer and global energy firm Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and general contractor Performance Contracting, Inc.

The 11 projects rely on the DuraTrack HZ v3 single axis tracker from Array Technologies. This technology keeps the modules following the sun on its course throughout the day, ensuring up to a 20 to 25 percent increase in energy production over fixed-tilt systems. The sites also feature rigid thin-film solar panels from First Solar, an American photovoltaic manufacturer and provider of utility-scale power solutions. RPCS, Array Technologies’ DG partner, designs and installs single axis solar tracker systems across the country, with hundreds of projects to date in the utility and distributed generation markets.

“We love working for the RES team and are very proud of these projects,” says RPCS Chief Sales Officer Alex Smith. “Having 11 projects underway at one time is one of the things that RPCS does best for portfolio companies, and we are really excited to see all the First Solar panels on top of ATI trackers. It’s the best combination of price and speed of installation, which has al-lowed us to execute these projects so cleanly. The sites turned out beautifully and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to work together with RES and PCI.”

The portfolio of projects utilized decommissioned agricultural land leased from local land owners and was flexibly designed to minimize environmental impacts by requiring no major grading. RPCS trained dozens of Texas locals on the installation over the course of the projects, working alongside the local electricians and general contractor labor. The projects have all been injury-free.

Wes Allen, RPCS Superintendent, says, “We had a lot of fun training the local labor. They under-stood what it meant and what it took to build a quality tracker for the community. Because of the quality of work, we requested some of them travel with us to complete the portfolio in oth-er parts of Texas. I received a lot of positive feedback from the locals, and they really enjoyed working with RPCS and can’t wait to build another project.”

— Solar Builder magazine