VOTE: 2016 Rooftop Solar Project of the Year
Polebridge Mercantile Off Grid Solar + Storage Project
Location: Polebridge, Montana
Size: 30 kW (57.8 kWh storage)
Completed: August 2016
Polebridge Mercantile, located 45 miles from the Utility Grid on the western edge of Glacier National Park in Montana, has always had to rely on a diesel-powered generator and lead acid batteries to provide power to the remote and rustic town since the 1950s. In 2010, a small 5-kW solar power system consisting of two pole mounted arrays with 24 solar modules was installed along with a large 48 volt flooded lead acid battery bank. However, the size of the solar system proved inadequate to meet growing load requirements and the batteries suffered due to repeated deep cycle discharging and extreme temperature ranges, all of which undermined reliable off grid access to power. In 2016, an additional 25 kW of solar power was added in combination with SimpliPhi Power’s PHI 3.4 kWh 48 Volt 60 Amp batteries to store solar generation and extend access to power throughout the night, storms and other inclement weather. The new solar array boasts 87 solar modules mounted to the roof of a new barn built on site to match the angle of the sun throughout the year. The 17 SimpliPhi lithium ferrous phosphate batteries are installed in parallel to increase capacity at 48 Volts and could be safely installed inside the barn without the risk of thermal runaway or requisite cooling or ventilation equipment characteristic of other lithium ion batteries.
Developer: AEON Renewable Energy
Contractor: AEON Renewable Energy
Modules: SolarWorld for both arrays
Inverter: Schneider Electric
Energy Storage: SimpliPhi Power
Mounting: Rooftop array from Zilla Racs
Cerebral Palsy of Massachusetts
Location: Stoughton, Mass.
Size: 109 kW
Completed: May 2016
Cerebral Palsy of Massachusetts, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing rehabilitative and related services for developmentally disabled children and adults, partnered with Solect Energy to install a solar energy system on the roof of its Stoughton location. The solar array is expected to cover up to 50% of the organization’s annual electricity use, allowing the agency to apply thousands of dollars in operational savings to furthering its mission. The agency made a choice to own the system outright; an atypical financing solution for a nonprofit, since most do not have the up-front capital and do not qualify for the tax incentives associated with owning a solar system.
Developer: Solect Energy
Contractor: Solect Energy
Modules: ET Solar
Solar Array Donation to Veteran Derick Hurt
Location: Greenfield, MO
Size: 5.2 kW
Completion: June 2016
Sergeant Hurt served our country and returned home disabled. The Sun Solar owners heard of his achievements in service and wanted to help the Hurt family. The company donated a 5.2-kW system to the family. A simple but awesome story.
Contractor: Civic Solar
Modules: Q Cells 260
Strictly Pediatrics Surgery Center
Location: Austin, TX
Project size: 812 kW
Completed: May 2016
In addition to saving lives, Strictly Pediatrics will also save a ton of money on its operating costs after installing the largest rooftop PV system in Central Texas. Comprised of nearly 2,500 solar panels, the 812-kW system designed and installed by Freedom Solar Power includes two solar canopy structures on the parking garages, a roof-mounted solar array on the building, and an in-lobby monitoring system that shows the energy savings in real time. Freedom Solar covered the limited space on the building’s rooftop with solar panels during phase one of the project. Phase two is where the real innovation took place — Freedom Solar designed and installed a custom solar canopy structures to shade the top floors of the parking garages while providing a significant amount of the building’s energy needs. The solar installation is expected to offset 50 percent of Strictly Pediatrics’ energy needs and generate more than 1.2 million kWh of electricity per year. The solar project will pay for itself in less than seven years and save Strictly Pediatrics more than $3 million over the next 25 years.
Developer: Freedom Solar Power
Contractor: Freedom Solar Power
Mounting: Schletter (for rails and clamps); using custom steel for parking canopy
Property Reuse: School House to Apartments
Location: Fort Madison, Iowa
Size: 300 kW (200 kW roof mount)
Completed: February 2016
Derelict school buildings dot the prairie in Iowa’s small towns. The Fort Madison Middle School was one of them until Todd Schneider, a southeast Iowa visionary, purchased and renovated it. Built in 1922 and decommissioned in 2013, the Middle School almost ended up in a landfill. From his previous experience renovating a Catholic school, Schneider knew he could successfully transform the Middle School into high quality, affordable apartments – if he could secure funding. Schneider sought Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding available from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. His proposal incorporated a 300-kW solar array designed by Ideal Energy of Fairfield, Iowa. Schneider believes including solar energy in his proposal made his project stand out from the 66 other applicants. Schneider received nearly $3 million in CDBG funds. Three years later the project is 90 percent rented and profitable.
Developer: Todd Schneider
Contractor: Ideal Energy
Modules: Renesola Virtus II JC300M-24/Abh
Inverters: SolarEdge inverters and optimizers
Mounting: Roof racking Ecolibrium Solar; Carport by Schletter
Homes For Our Troops – Sgt. Toran Gaal
Location: Valley Center, Calif.
Size: 6.24 kW
Completed: July 23, 2016
American Solar Direct selected Marine Sergeant Toran Gaal and his family to receive a free, state-of-the-art solar power system to help offset a majority of their electricity costs in their new home constructed by Homes For Our Troops. American Solar Direct donated and installed a 6.24-kW solar electric system for the Gaals’ new home. All costs for the system installation (material and labor) were covered by American Solar Direct and its employees who rallied to volunteer their time and effort to support this project. On the first day, Team ASD focused on preparing the roof by installing the mounts and racking that support the solar panels. On the second day, Team ASD installed the solar panels and wired the system up. On both days, volunteers worked in extreme heat in order to finish the project on time, while also using the opportunity to interact with the homeowners and express gratitude for their sacrifice.
Developer: Homes For Our Troops
Contractor: American Solar Direct
Location: Mashpee, Mass.
Size: 443 kW
Completed: June 2016
Mashpee Commons is an open-air shopping center that is the physical and social center of the quaint Cape Cod town of Mashpee. SunBug Solar was ultimately selected to carry out the project and was careful to address several key requirements of the client. At Mashpee Commons, where the visitor experience is paramount, SunBug Solar made sure not to impinge on the enjoyment of the guests. The use of heavy equipment was limited; all panels, racking and ballast was lifted onto the roof using cranes in the early morning to avoid interfering with shopping hours. Street trenching and overhead wires were also not allowed. To further complicate the project, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires a formal waiver from the Department of Public Utilities to install more than one net meter on a single parcel of land, so the seven rooftop solar arrays had to be tied into one main Point of Interconnection–without cutting pavement. SunBug Solar decided to use horizontal underground drilling to connect the arrays to the main panel (2,000 feet of underground conduit and wiring). In order to connect inverters on seven separate roofs to a single cluster controller, SunBug Solar installed NanoBeam wireless devices on each roof to wirelessly connect to the local area network.
Developer: SunBug Solar
Contractor: SunBug Solar
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