Indiana school district to build two solar arrays to power its three schools


Indiana’s Hamilton Southeastern Schools is partnering with Ameresco, Inc. to bring renewable energy to the school district in the form of ground mount solar farms. Two solar arrays comprised of 4,800 panels will power three of the district’s schools. Ameresco has also provided Hamilton Southeastern Schools with two solar wagons and programming to incorporate sustainability education into its curriculum.

With construction already underway, Hamilton Southeastern Schools will finance this project with bond fees and operational cost savings generated from the solar arrays. Already the project has generated funds for the construction of a playground at the Riverside Intermediate School and is projected to generate additional funds to build two more in the district.

“Our partnership with Ameresco has already allowed us to invest in projects that directly benefit our students and create a more sustainable learning environment at our schools,” said Dr. Allen Bourff, Superintendent of Hamilton Southeastern Schools. “The curriculum Ameresco provided will help our teachers educate their students about the latest innovations in renewable energy technology and the importance of sustainability for the future of our environment.”

The solar panels at Sand Creek Elementary and Intermediate Schools have a projected annual output of 1,492,919 kWh and those at HSE Intermediate and Junior High with another 892,681 kWh. Combined, the arrays will generate enough energy to power 294 homes for a year and help avoid 1,687 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

“By taking steps to integrate solar power into its energy portfolio, Hamilton Southeastern Schools will provide more comfortable, cost efficient learning environments for its students and teaching staff,” said Lou Maltezos, Executive Vice President of Ameresco. “We are thrilled to be their partner in this endeavor and help them complete this project in a budget-neutral way.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Four C&I solar project development lessons learned by Standard Solar

rooftop solar install

Have a solid staging plan, especially on constrained-area sites like rooftops.

One of the many reasons working for Standard Solar is so rewarding is that we do not design and install cookie-cutter projects. We customize each system with the specific host, site location, environmental situation and unique challenges of the project in mind. Overcoming these challenges and providing the best possible project on time and on budget makes building these systems that much more satisfying.

As the solar industry matures, we believe ensuring all projects are completed with the highest level of safety and professionalism is paramount in achieving success. Here are some of the more critical lessons we’ve learned recently installing and owning solar projects throughout the United States.

Supervision required

This seems obvious, right? When you’re working on a solar project with many moving parts, who would try to work without supervision?

What is often overlooked, however, is that this supervision cannot be casual. It needs to be conducted daily — and for some projects, multiple times per day. Otherwise, problems are going to arise that will go unnoticed until the project is much further down the road. By then, fixing mistakes almost always costs more than identifying and rectifying the problems early on in the process.

Additionally, do not skimp on site security. Keeping the project safe and secure while the workers are not there is almost as important as watching over the site when they are.

Ask for permission, not forgiveness

It’s easy, in the name of progress, to give your subcontractors the ability to change plans on the fly. In our experience, however, sometimes those changes can lead to bigger headaches.

Insist that your subcontractors receive your superintendent’s approval before they make any changes to the approved plans. Let them know that if they proceed without your approval, they will be responsible for any costs associated with these unauthorized changes as well as possible corrections and delays in the schedule. Implementing a solid Request For Information (RFI) Process is key to success in this area and building a strong relationship with your subcontractors.

In addition, it’s critical that superintendents and subcontractors are all building off the same drawing set. It’s up to the superintendent to confirm — as often as necessary — that everyone is singing from the same sheet music.

The entire site is not a stage

Confirm the staging area with the site host before any material arrives. Moreover, get the staging area approved in writing. There is nothing worse than having material show up at a construction site without any place to put it. Having a solid, approved staging plan, especially on constrained-area sites like rooftops, is key to the success of the installation phase.

Furthermore, superintendents should reject any material unless it’s staged within a reasonable distance from the mobilization area of the project. Solar modules and other materials are not easy to move, so avoid having to move them long distances or multiple times as this could potentially cause damage.

Trust, but verify

Superintendents must receive all structural and electrical information from vendors and subcontractors and verify that the installation meets code. The superintendent is ultimately responsible for making sure an installation is code compliant. Ensuring compliance at every step of the process ensures the project will go smoothly, making everyone’s life easier.

The bottom line is you can trust your vendor’s subcontractors to do their jobs, but there is nothing wrong with verifying they are completing it safely and correctly.

Rick Berube is COO of Standard Solar. Stay tuned to Standard Solar’s blog for more in this series.

— Solar Builder magazine

Hanergy signs deal to build one of the largest solar projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo

hanergy congo news

The multinational clean energy company, Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, secured a strategic order for setting up the 400 Megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic power plants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s first and the largest solar power plant project, so far.

Building synergies to provide sustainable and stable energy supply in the DR Congo, the clean energy giant and the Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources of Democratic Republic of Congo, on May 29 signed a strategic partnership framework agreement for 400 MW solar power plants.

Under the agreement, the two parties along with the National Power Company of DR Congo will follow “EPC+F” financing model to make joint efforts through project cooperation and technical exchange to consolidate and increase cooperation in the fields of electricity, water, renewable energy and fuel.

The cooperation is intended to gradually reduce the energy scarcity faced by the mining industry in the provinces of Katanga, Lualaba, Kasaï-Oriental, Kasaï-Central, Kivu and Sankuru, where the two parties will set up SPV plants with a cumulative capacity of 400 MW upon signing of the formal contract. The execution of the co-operation will begin in December this year.

José Maboya Nzalingo, General Secretary of Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources said, “Our strategic partnership with the global clean energy giant, Hanergy is a step ahead towards meeting DRC’s original target of 65% electrification by 2025, letting alone the new Sustainable Development Goals of universal electricity access by 2030. By dint of joining forces with Hanergy to set up the country’s first and the largest solar power station project, we’re confident of providing sustainable and stable energy supply in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The initial strategic partnership framework agreement suggests that energy generated in the first stage is estimated to be 20 MW, benefiting over 100,000 people. With the total capacity of 400MW, the multiple power stations are expected to solve the problem of energy inadequacy of DR Congo. The project is also aimed at generating around 10,000 jobs and providing education to create 100 technology specialists.

— Solar Builder magazine

Pine Gate Renewables starts construction on 101 megawatt solar project in South Carolina

pine gate renewables

Construction of Bowman Solar has commenced, according to Pine Gate Renewables, a national utility-scale solar developer. Bowman is a 101-megawatt project spanning 651 acres in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, making it one of the largest solar sites in the state.

Through the teamwork of Pine Gate’s in-house EPC team and its contractors, construction on the 849,840-panel project began in Q2 2019 with commercial operation anticipated for Q1 2020. Financing for Bowman was led by CIT’s Power and Energy group, which arranged the construction and permanent financing facilities, and US Bank, who arranged the tax equity investment. Momentum Energy Advisors assisted Pine Gate Renewables in sourcing, structuring, and executing the debt and tax equity financing.

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“CIT is pleased to support Pine Gate Renewables by leading the financing needed to advance this significant addition of renewable power generation capacity in South Carolina,” said Mike Lorusso, Managing Director and Group Head for CIT’s Power and Energy business.

Bowman is Pine Gate’s thirteenth project in the state of South Carolina. Cumulatively, the company’s South Carolina projects have raised over $400 million in capital and generated nearly $1 million in personal property taxes for local communities to date. In addition, Bowman will generate enough energy to power approximately 75,000 homes with a greenhouse gas reduction that is equivalent to removing 19,100 gas-powered cars from the road and planting 118,000 trees.

“Pine Gate is proud to continue our track record of investing in the local communities of South Carolina,” said Ben Catt, CEO for Pine Gate Renewables. “We look forward to being a long-term partner to the citizens of Orangeburg County.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Label manufacturer opts for 100 percent renewable energy at factory via Duke Energy program

RAF Mills

UPM Raflatac, a manufacturer of pressure sensitive label materials, is now sourcing all of the electricity at its factory in Mills River, N.C., via renewable sources through Duke Energy’s NC Renewable Energy Program. The company opted to increase its renewable electricity use from 4 percent to 100 percent from sources like wind, solar and hydropower.

The use of renewable electricity is a key component of UPM Raflatac’s Biofore Site program, which aims to improve the sustainability performance of the company’s manufacturing sites. The program includes a Biofore Site scorecard with approximately 30 sustainability measures, including energy use, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are the framework that governments, business and civil society use to drive the sustainability agenda. The Biofore Site scorecard is also a tool to make the company’s sustainability performance more tangible and transparent for its employees and others.

“We are proud to be North Carolina’s first manufacturing facility to boast 100 percent renewable electricity use,” says Ari Salminen, the General Manager of UPM Raflatac’s Mills River factory. “It is just one way we are labeling a smarter future beyond fossils and leading the way for positive change in our state.”

“Through our REC program, Duke Energy is working with large customers to secure renewable energy credits that will quicken their goal to promote a greener energy mix,” said Christy Daniel, managing director, Renewable Customer Solutions and Programs. “Our knowledge of the energy market can help companies like UPM Raflatac achieve this in a cost-effective way.”

— Solar Builder magazine