Vote: C&I Solar Builder Projects of the Year


Here are your C&I nominees for the 2021 Solar Builder Project of the Year Awards, sponsored by Fortress Power! You are allowed to vote once per day from now until Sept. 24 at midnight (EDT). Winners will be announced in the Fall issue of Solar Builder magazine and on the website in November.

Open my ballot (if you haven’t yet)

C&I (rooftop)

Flemington Area Food Pantry

Hunterdon Country, N.J. | 33 kW

Food pantry SMA and OMCO

This project reflects a collaboration between leading companies in the solar industry to support an organization addressing food insecurity. The project originated when a high school student noticed the opportunity for solar and brought it up with his father, Tom Kuster, co-founded solar development company Merit SI. The array was made possible by a collaborative donation effort with both private sector and community volunteers, each supplying their individual components. Rallying around the food bank, a full team of project partners including First Solar, OMCO Solar, SMA America, and Pro Circuit Electrical Contracting signed on to the project. Prior to the solar installation, the Flemington Food Pantry spent a substantial percentage of their operating budget on the electricity for their refrigerators and freezers. Donation accounted for the entire cost of the solar installation, relieving the pantry’s $10,556 annual electricity bill. The new 33 kW system allows those funds to be allocated toward the purchase of food for their community – enough to prepare 6,360 meals.

Developer: Merit SI | Contractor: Pro Circuit Electrical | Modules: First Solar | Inverters: SMA | Mounting: OMCO Solar

Harvey Milk SFO New Terminal 1

San Francisco | 1.34 MW


The solar PV ballasted / hybrid flat roof racking installed on the new Harvey Milk (Terminal 1) at San Francisco International Airport was tricky for two reasons. The azimuth of the array was analyzed in respect of the runways and approaching airplanes to ensure glare wouldn’t affect their landing and taking off. A third-party engineering firm specializing in glare studies was tapped to conduct a study and determined the array layout that would ensure safety for approaching airplanes. Hensel Phelps and Redwood Electric then had to find the right racking system that would follow the curvature design and handle the roofs undulations. In the end, each sub array is slightly angled to appear to be curved when seen from satellite images. The PV contributed to the Terminal’s LEED Gold Certification.

Developers: Hensel Phelps, Redwood Electric | Modules: GCL | Inverters: SolarEdge | Mounting: Sollega Inc.

Inspira Emergency Medical Services

Millville, N.J. | 75 kW


This project was particularly challenging for Nexsun because the circuit was constrained by the EDC. Nexsun designed an approach together with Ageto Energy proposing a DC-coupled system, but the utility did not accept this technological solution. In the end, Nexsun worked with the client, a major health care provider in southern New Jersey, to find the best cost-benefit solution to meet its First Responders facility needs with the best technology available. The NJ TREC Program was an essential tool in lowering the project payback, which was a key factor considering that Inspira Health Network is a non-profit organization without tax liability to collect the Solar ITC.

Developer / Contractor: Nexsun America LLC | Modules: Trina Solar | Inverters: SMA | Mounting: S-5!

Liberty Self Storage

Covington, Louisiana | 74.88kW DC

Liberty Self Storage

The Next Solar Energy transformed a solar array into a symbol of freedom in the Deep South–an American flag. Liberty Self Storage, a multi-site storage facility business in Louisiana and the state’s largest solar-powered company, contacted Next Solar Energy to do a conversion project for one of their locations. Liberty Self Storage had dedicated itself to green energy in 2016, commissioning solar conversion for the first nine of 12 locations in St. Tammany Parish, but this time, they wanted to do something different. In line with the name of the company “liberty”, they chose an American Flag solar panel array designed by Next Solar Energy.

Developer / Contractor: The Next Solar Energy | Modules: Hanwha Q-Cells | Inverters: APsystems | Mounting: S-5!

Sun Link and Tucson portfolio

Tucson, Ariz. | 163.54 kW

The City of Tucson, Ariz., partnered with SOLON Corporation to construct more than 48 solar projects throughout the city, including a rooftop system at the Sun Link Transportation Center. The Sun Link Streetcar connects five unique districts within Tucson including the Downtown area and the University of Arizona. SOLON provided the City with an aesthetically pleasing “curved” roof-mounted solar array to match the roof and shade it from the scorching Arizona sun to reduce air conditioning bills. Not only does the solar system look great but it will produce more than 6.5 million kWh of electricity over 25 years and the City of Tucson will save over $500,000.

Developer / Contractor: SOLON Corp. | Modules: JA Solar | Inverters: CPS | Mounting: S-5! and Ironridge

C&I (ground-mounts)

Buckhorn Children & Family Services

Buckhorn, Ky. | 20.48 kW

Buckhorn Children & Family Services

In the heart of coal country Kentucky, the nonprofit Buckhorn Children & Family Services (BCFS) unveiled a 20.48kW ground-mounted solar array. This system, which was provided by the nonprofit Everybody Solar – a nonprofit dedicated to bringing solar to other nonprofits at no cost to them. Unlike many solar installs, the project at BCFS not only provides much needed operational cost relief, but it also served as a platform to guide local policy, offer training/learning opportunities, and showcase solar as a viable alternative to coal in rural Kentucky – where solar does not have a presence. Specifically, in 2020 and 2021, the local utility aimed to reduce the retail value of solar, arguing net metering is only utilized by the wealthy. BCFS is an example of how crucial 1:1 net metering can be for disadvantaged communities and small business.

Developer: MTA Associates | Contractor: HOMES Inc. | Modules Astronergy | Inverters: SolarEdge | Mounting: ASTM A53

Huntley CSD 158 Solar Portfolio

Huntley, Ill. | 5.5 MW

Huntley community school solar forefront power

Huntley Community School District 158 partnered with ForeFront Power to install 5.5-megawatt (MW) of solar energy capacity throughout the district, the largest solar energy installation on a school district property in Illinois. Under a power purchase agreement (PPA), ForeFront Power designed, permitted, financed, installed, and will maintain the solar energy project for a 20-year term that is expected to save the district an estimated minimum of $4.2 million. By reducing these energy expenses, district funds can be spent more directly on student education. Huntley Community School District is one of the lowest-spending districts in Illinois due to lack of revenue. With the ground-mounted solar project portfolio operational, approximately 80% of the district’s energy usage will now come from solar leading to greater energy efficiency and lower energy costs. During less active times, the excess energy produced from the panels will return to the grid serving the surrounding community unifying Huntley through clean energy connectivity.

Developer: ForeFront Power | Contractor: SolAmerica | Modules: LONGi | Inverters: Solectria | Mounting: RBI Solar

Orange Crush Solar Project

East Dundee, Ill. | 353 kW

Built to offset 100% of the plant’s electrical energy consumption, this is believed to be the first and only asphalt plant in Illinois to be powered by a solar. With limited space at the asphalt and concrete recycling plant in East Dundee, Ill., the team creatively cut out shelves on the 20’ tall privacy berm on the north of the property. There was a lot of creative planning as there was very limited space and the array need to be critically placed to the front of the small shelves to be able to install everything and access the wiring from underneath. Utilizing an enclosed raceway/cable tray underneath the array gives a clean look with added safety.

Contractor: Althoff Industries, Inc. | Developer: Althoff and Simpleray | Modules: Canadian Solar | Inverters: SMA | Mounting: OMCO

Oxford Vista Campus

Aurora, Colo. | 434 kW

The Oxford Vista campus (occupied by AmeriCorps and owned by Urban Land Conservancy) is achieving net zero electric status through a 434-kW ground mount array and carport combo EnergyLink’s in-house construction team installed. The ground mount array is unique in that it sits atop a 100-ton Daikin geo-loop VRV system, which was also installed to improve the campus’ heating and cooling efficiency. The ground mount array was placed there for optimal use of space on the campus. To get as close as possible to net zero, new RTUs, MUAs, DOAS systems, and boiler systems were design-built. White cool roofs, LED lights, and new windows were also installed. The campus had old, outdated 1950s mechanical tech which needed a major overhaul. Their entire mechanical room was renovated. Over 20 years, energy savings of $2,674,220 are projected for the project, allowing Urban Land Conservancy to pass those savings on to AmeriCorps, the Oxford Vista campus’ tenant, which in turn will give AmeriCorps more funds to allocate towards their mission.

Developer: EnergyLink | Urban Land Conservancy | Modules: LONGi | Inverters: SMA America | Carports: Powers Solar Frames | Mounting: RBI Solar

Salvage Yard

Morrisville, Vermont | 2.1 MW

This project converted an old auto salvage yard into a solar project, delivering renewable energy to the local utility. The landowners will remain on the land that has been in their family for generations, as the operational solar project affords both an annual lease payment as well as the means to complete the environmental remediation required to address the regulatory approval for operation of a solar array on the former auto salvage facility which served the local community for decades. The ground beneath the solar array is being planted with pollinator-friendly ground cover to support vital habitat for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, and other insects critical to future food security in addition to boosting carbon sequestration and reducing stormwater runoff.

Developer: Encore Renewable Energy | Contractor: Peck Electric | Modules: ET Solar | Inverter: CPS | Mounting: RBI Solar

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