Details on the largest landfill solar project in Ohio now being constructed

Conti solar ohio parklands

PSE&G Parklands landfill ground array completed by Conti.

Conti Solar, a national solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), O&M and energy storage development company, has begun construction on the largest landfill solar project in Ohio. Located in Cuyahoga County, the 4 MW project is owned and operated by IGS Solar, a commercial and residential solar provider and an affiliate company of IGS Energy, one of the largest independent retail energy suppliers in the country. The solar project was developed by Enerlogics and McDonald Hopkins, and when complete, will provide over 5,000,000 kilowatt hours of clean solar electricity to county-owned facilities annually.

Solar projects built on landfills can be particularly complex, but Conti Solar has successfully installed more than 133 MW of landfill solar projects across the country. Their deep experience and knowledge with the processes and risks of landfill projects, along with their competitive buying power and superior execution capabilities establishes Conti Solar as a national leader in the segment.

RELATED: Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites

Financing

The Cuyahoga solar project is the first of its kind in Ohio. Covering 17 acres of previously unproductive land, Conti Solar will manage the construction of the solar array that will sit atop a closed-and-capped landfill and transform an area of waste into a sustainable solar power generation plant. The project will be a cornerstone of Cuyahoga County’s sustainable practices. Via a power purchase agreement (PPA), Cuyahoga County will acquire 100 percent of the project’s energy through Cleveland Public Power. Benefits of this unique project include significantly reduced energy costs for the county, additional tax revenue, and an estimated 100 local jobs.

“It was essential that we partnered with a firm that has a proven track record in developing solar projects on top of sensitive landfill sites,” said Patrick Smith, vice president of IGS Solar. “It’s a unique niche, but Conti Solar’s vast experience, impeccable standards, and understanding of IGS Solar’s vision for the community has made Conti Solar the ideal partner for this project.”

“IGS Solar is helping Cuyahoga County reduce energy costs for the next 20 years. They have been a reliable energy partner supporting the efficient and cost-effective addition of clean renewable energy for the county’s benefit, both environmentally and financially, said Matthew Skidmore, CEO of Conti Solar. “We hope to continue working with IGS Solar on projects like this in Ohio and other Midwestern states.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Community solar wave sweeps through country — how solar installers benefit

community solar for installers

A recent article in Forbes Magazine suggested there are 320 GW of untapped solar potential in the United States. To tap the market, however, solar installers have to think outside traditional solar production models. One model gaining traction throughout the United States is community solar, a way to share the benefits of solar energy with neighbors beyond the traditional solar-array-on-single-family-rooftop model of selling solar electricity. In this article, we’ll examine what community solar is, why it’s becoming popular, where community solar is taking root and why solar installers should consider adding it to their installation repertoires.

Why is community solar becoming so popular?

There are multiple reasons community solar is becoming increasingly popular. For one, it allows solar installers to broaden their pool of potential customers. After all, you can sell solar one rooftop at a time, but even the best installer will eventually run out of usable rooftops to sell. With community solar, installers no longer have to sell to each individual homeowner but can sell to a community instead. It’s a much easier sell because many people don’t want solar on their roofs for aesthetic reasons, or concerns about voiding roof warranties.

Community solar takes all those concerns away and, once one person in the community agrees to purchase solar electricity from the community array, others are more easily persuaded to follow their lead.

Lastly, it eliminates what is usually the biggest objection to solar installations: the cost. Since no one person is being asked to foot the bill for the entire array—instead sharing costs among dozens if not hundreds of subscribers—it’s easier for people to wrap their minds around the idea of solar energy in that context instead of putting it on their individual roofs.

Once the community solar garden is installed, all the participants in the program get to save money while gaining all the benefits from producing their electricity from clean energy. Who’s going to argue with that?

Where is community solar taking root?

Beloit University students help install community solar array in Colorado_GRID2017_2

Beloit University students help install community solar array in Colorado.

Shared solar is also the perfect solution to highly urbanized areas where land is at a premium, but densely packed buildings provide the perfect staging ground for utility-scale arrays.

It’s also taking root in rural areas where land is plentiful, and it’s expensive to string utility wires. In fact, farming communities are perfect places for distributed electricity of any kind—so why not have it be solar?

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly, depending on how you look at it), community solar farms are sprouting in states not typically associated with the Solar Revolution. In fact, the most robust community solar power program is in Minnesota, one of the cloudiest, coldest and snowiest states in the country.

Why? Well, after opposing rooftop solar systems for decades, the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, embraced community solar farms and started installing their own, giving their customers the opportunity to purchase parts of solar panels from which to produce their electricity.

To find out what the laws governing community solar are in your state, click here.

In other words, community solar allows utilities to provide their residential customers savings on their electricity bills by offsetting their use with the energy produced by their portion of the community solar project. With innovations like virtual net metering and other billing options, people see their power bills go down, while utility revenues can continue steadily along.

Community solar proves once and for all that solar power and utility profits are not mutually exclusive—meaning the mindless battles that have often plagued that relationship don’t have to continue in perpetuity.

How do solar installers benefit?

By now, the advantages to the consumer of community solar programs are obvious. But why should solar installers, who’ve made their money for decades selling solar one roof at a time, embrace community solar?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s why:

● 320 GW: To sell 320 GW of solar roof by roof could take the next hundred or so years, and despite our human-nature belief that we will all live forever, we know that’s not true. So why not use community solar to tap into this enormous, untapped market while you can still enjoy the revenues?

● Easier sales process: As we discussed above, it’s far easier to sell solar to a group of people than it is to individuals. Once one community member decides they want to purchase a subscription to a community solar array, the rest of the sales come much more quickly. And once you’ve sold 10 subscriptions or more, you’ve more than made your investment back on the sales meeting.

● Utility backing: Unlike individual rooftop solar sales, which utilities have been known to frown on because they see them as direct competition to their own business model, community solar arrays are something they generally can get behind. From Minnesota to Ohio to New Mexico and every state in between, community solar is being embraced by utilities as a way to keep customers while still satisfying their customers’ desires to get their kilowatt-hours from solar energy.

Having utility backing means much easier permitting processes, fewer interconnection headaches and easier collaboration when it comes to commissioning the new solar array. Think of how much easier your life would be with those advantages—and then think of how community solar could help you get there.

Ultimately, community solar is too good a deal for everyone for you not to embrace it. Customers love it because it allows them access to solar energy in situations where they might not otherwise be able to participate in the Solar Revolution. Utilities love it because it gives their customers another option while keeping them their customers.

And solar installers should love it because it opens new markets that would otherwise be closed to them if they were only selling one solar rooftop at a time.

Andrew Sendy is CEO of SolarReviews.

— Solar Builder magazine

First community solar project in PG&E’s Regional Renewable Choice program on the way

ForeFront Power Logo

ForeFront Power has developed over 800 MW of capacity across more than 1,000 projects, targeted on assisting public sector agencies and C&I firms.

ForeFront Power will build the first community solar project for PG&E’s Regional Renewable Choice program. The program allows PG&E customers, including those who rent or cannot install on-site solar, the option of purchasing up to 100 percent renewable energy from an off-site location.

PG&E’s Regional Renewable Choice program gives residential and business customers – including those who rent – an easy way to participate in solar without installing or maintaining solar panels. ForeFront Power is developing the inaugural Regional Renewable Choice program community solar project in Fresno County. Participating customers will sign a contract directly with ForeFront Power to subscribe to a portion of the energy produced from the 1.66-megawatt solar project. In turn, customers will receive a program credit from PG&E on their monthly energy statement based on the kilowatt-hour output of their subscription with the developer.

RELATED: Three possible shifts in California’s solar market after historic rule

Both residential and business customers may now express their interest in the project to ForeFront Power in order to start their subscription upon project completion in mid-2019.

“ForeFront Power is excited to be the first renewable energy developer to take solar to the next level through community solar for PG&E customers,” said Director of Sales, Rachel McLaughlin. “We look forward to serving customers for whom on-site solar is not the right fit.”

Head here for more information about ForeFront Power’s community solar project with PG&E.

— Solar Builder magazine

How JLM Energy financed, installed three commercial energy storage systems in southern California

JLM Energy Phazr MicroStorage

JLM Energy recently signed agreements to install energy storage systems for Modern Postcard in Carlsbad, Thermal-Vac Technology and Continuous Coating Corporation in Orange. Energy storage will enable these businesses to reduce commercial demand fees, resulting in millions of dollars saved.

  • Thermal-Vac Technology is a 33-year industry leader and premier brazing, heat-treating and metal finishing facility located in Southern California Edison utility territory. JLM will be installing a 750 kW/1500 kWh Gridz energy storage system.
  • Modern Postcard is a 25-year industry leader in full-service direct marketing solutions and quality promotional printing for businesses of all types, located in San Diego Gas & Electric territory. JLM will be installing a 420 kW/840 kWh Gridz system.
  • Continuous Coating Corporation is the industry leader in electro galvanizing and located in Southern California Edison territory. Established in 1965, as the only electro-zinc line in the Western United States, JLM will install a 180 kW/360 kWh Gridz system for Continuous Coating.

Funding details

These projects are funded through a special $25 million project financing fund. This structure allows qualified customers to achieve guaranteed savings on a monthly basis for 20 years, with no money down. JLM will own, maintain and guarantee system performance. In these respective cases, each solution will generate millions of dollars in savings during the life of the system.

Nate Newsom, JLM Energy’s VP of Enterprise Sales, said, “Shared savings is a risk-free way to reduce burdensome utility bills. Commercial entities that spend three percent or more of their monthly budget on electricity and/or experience 40-50% demand charges typically are a good fit for energy storage.”

JLM Energy’s storage solutions operate on intelligent software called Measurz. It analyzes energy consumption trends and then develops recommendations that automatically optimize energy efficiency. Users can rely on stored energy during periods of peak energy use, resulting in lower bills.

The energy storage market is being driven by the declining cost of batteries, creating a huge benefit for consumers. JLM uses lithium iron phosphate batteries, a more structurally and thermally stable alternative than the more common lithium ion.

— Solar Builder magazine

Hannah Solar completes 1.2-MW solar project for Otis Elevator

Hannah Solar

Hannah Solar Government Services (HSGS) completed the construction of a 1.2-MW ground mounted solar array for Otis Elevator Co. at the company’s facility in Florence, South Carolina. Otis is the world’s leading manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products, including elevators, escalators and moving walkways. Otis offers products and services through its companies in approximately 200 countries and territories, and moves more than 2 billion people each day worldwide.

RELATED: Need easy access to utility data for a sales proposal? Try Utility Data for Solar

Otis’ solar array consists of 3,660 solar panels and is expected to generate 1,852,700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy in its first year, which is enough electricity to power 171 homes. HSGS installed Otis’ ground array in a field located next to Interstate 95, providing passersby with a unique view of Otis’ corporate commitment to power their operations with clean, renewable energy.

HSGS is a veteran-owned business specializing in the design, installation, and maintenance of solar PV systems, battery energy systems, and microgrids. Serving the government, commercial/industrial, and utility marketplaces, HSGS’s breadth of experience includes projects that span the continental United States as well as overseas.

— Solar Builder magazine