The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) recognized the best photovoltaic projects in the Midwest at the PV Conference and Expo in Chicago. The Project of Distinction Award recognizes solar projects that demonstrate innovation, diverse community involvement, and best practices that advance the industry. Fronius submitted the North Putnam Community School project, which is unique in several aspects.
North Putnam Community Schools is the first school district in the state of Indiana that runs two of its buildings completely off “net zero solar energy”, using a 1.6 MWp solar system. While the project had to be financed without any solar incentive (only a LED lighting rebate was included in the project), it will still pay off in 11 years and is already cash flow positive starting year 1. The system produces approx. 1.6 GWh of Energy a year, which significantly reduces the school’s energy bills.
The system was installed by Indiana energy solution provider Johnson Melloh, in collaboration with Fronius inverters and JLM Energy storage solutions. The school is now equipped with 4,200 solar modules, 42 Fronius Symo string inverters and a JLM Gridz storage system. Johnson Melloh and Fronius are both located in the state of Indiana. Therefore, the project also supports the state’s economy and is a great example for “thinking global, acting local” – both ecological and economical.
The system produces approx. 1.6 GWh of Energy a year, which significantly reduces the school’s energy bills, considering a previous $200,000 energy bill every year.
The award was given to all project partners during the Solar Power PV Conference & Expo in Chicago, which sent a strong signal to the upcoming Midwestern solar market. “This system is a great example on how solar can benefit the Midwest and is a lighthouse project for the whole region”, says Tristan Kreager, Director of Solar Energy at Fronius USA.
The other winners include:
• Continental Construction Co., Illinois, for a 55-kilowatt (kW) solar installation, backed up with a 114-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion storage system, which has allowed the construction firm to cut its energy costs and provide benefits to the grid. The solar plus storage system can be used as a mini-microgrid within the building itself, providing both grid-support services, such as frequency regulation, and a fast start in the event of a power outage. Estimated payback on the system is 5 years. Project partners: Intelligent Generation, Chicago; and Navitas Systems, Woodbridge.
• Dairyland Power Cooperative, Wisconsin, for its 18-MW solar portfolio, encompassing 14 sites in Wisconsin and Iowa, with installations ranging from 600 kw to 2.75 MW in size — all generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes. According to figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Dairyland’s portfolio will double solar generation in Wisconsin and is also the first large-scale deployment of single-axis tracker arrays in the state. Project partners: SoCore Energy, Chicago; Faith Technologies Inc., Menasha, Wisconsin; Distribu-Gen Cooperative, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
• Habitat for Humanity, Traverse City, Michigan, for the Depot Neighborhood, an affordable housing development with net-zero, solar homes. The LEED-certified homes are constructed with high-efficiency lighting, heating and insulation, and will allow residents to monitor their energy consumption. Each home has a 7 KW solar system. The project was built with wide support from the community and local businesses. Project partners: CBS Solar, Copemish, Michigan; Advantage Electric, Traverse City.