Here are your Community Solar and Residential 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)
Duke Realty Portfolio
New Jersey | 11 MW
Duke Realty worked with Solar Landscape to install nearly 11 MWdc of solar energy – currently powering 1,800 New Jersey households from arrays on four Duke Realty facilities in three different municipalities. What’s cool about the deal is there is no anchor subscriber – the electricity is only to homes and apartments. Moreover, 51% of the electricity produced is being sold to low- and moderate-income households. Solar Landscape trained more than 100 solar installers as a result of the project, partnering with Edison Jobs Corp and several community-based organizations to rollout the job training which is continuing. This was all accomplished in 2021 through New Jersey’s new Community Solar Energy Pilot Program and represents the first community solar project ever in New Jersey.
Developer / Contractor: Solar Landscape | Modules: ZnShine, JA, Hanwa Q-Cells | Inverters: SMA and SolarEdge | Mounting: Panel Claw
Ossining, NY | 873 kWdc
Ecogy Maryknoll comprises 12 parking lot canopies, spanning two different parking lots on the campus of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers of Ossining, a Catholic order of priests and brothers. The system is also the first community solar system in Ossining and the largest canopy in Westchester County. The development of this community solar system has led to providing Maryknoll and over 70 Ossining households with solar energy, 15% of which are members of an affordable housing community. This is an important step forward for environmental justice in Westchester. The 10% bill discounts to all subscribers. The carport arrays will also provide the campus with covered parking for northeast winters, parking lot lighting for increased nighttime safety and security, and visible green initiative.
Developer: Ecogy Energy | Contractor: Greenspark | Modules: Talesun | Inverters: SolarEdge | Carports: Quest Renewables
Jack’s Solar Garden
Longmont, Colo. | 1.2 MW
Jack’s Solar Garden, a 1.2 MW community solar farm in Boulder County, Colo., is the largest site co-developed for both agriculture and solar research project in the U.S. In addition to providing ample agrivoltaic research opportunities to partner institutions like NREL, Colorado State University & the University of Arizona, Jack’s is also a community solar garden that is currently training a new generation of dual land use farmers through its nonprofit arm. Jack’s partnered with Audubon Rockies to plant 1,800+ pollinator friendly perennials around the perimeter and Sprout City Farms to manage crop production under the array as well train agrivoltaic farmers in Colorado. Two percent of the site’s energy production is donated to low-income households in Boulder County, and it hosts an “Artist on the Farm” program to support local creatives. Additionally, the food grown at Jack’s will help benefit Longmont residents experiencing food insecurity.
Developer: Byron Kominek, Jack’s Solar Garden | Contractor: Namaste Solar | Modules: Boviet Solar USA | Inverters: CPS | Mounting: Solar FlexRack
Rockford, Ill. | 2.6 MW
Nexamp developed a partnership with ComEd in Illinois, the “Give-A-Ray” program, to ensure that the benefits of the clean energy generated by this project would directly assist low and moderate income-qualified residents in the area. The 15-year program enables about 650 ComEd customers per year to enroll and receive community solar credits at no cost. ComEd pays for the community solar credits on behalf of customers and manages the identification and enrollment of subscribers to the project. Eligible customers can earn credits on 75% of their average annual energy usage, resulting in a savings of about $250 annually. In addition, this project is sited on a former city landfill, giving new life to an otherwise unusable plot of land, using fixed-tilt racking that is ballasted on the ground to avoid penetrating the landfill cap.
Developer / Contractor: Nexamp | Modules: JA Solar | Inverters: SMA | Mounting: RBI
Saranac Lake Community Solar
Saranac Lake, N.Y. | 2044.25kW
The story of Saranac Lake begins over 20 years ago when a local investor Lee Keet bought a parcel of land to prevent the entry of a ‘big box’ retailer he feared would damage the small merchant economy and rural character of the region. When community solar became possible in New York State, this provided a logical solution. Ensuring this project could benefit as many stakeholders as possible was a top priority. The anchor tenant (40 percent) is a local hospital, and the remaining capacity is allocated to local households and small-business subscribers, especially low to moderate-income individuals, in the form of a 10% energy discount. In addition, RER and Sunvestment sourced 10 local and affiliated investors for the tax equity investment as purely financially motivated investors would not have been willing to make an investment at a level that facilitated the community benefits.
Developer: RER Energy Group Sunvestment and Lee Keet | Contractor: RER Energy Group | Modules: Heliene | Inverters: CPS | Mounting: Terrasmart
Open my ballot (if you haven’t yet)
Carney Seeding Project
Nashville, Tenn. | 7kW
Jason Carney and BayWa r.e. partnered to develop residential rooftop solar for a community garden in an African American community in Nashville, Tenn. Building a solar project in a neighborhood that doesn’t have any rooftop solar matters, especially in communities of color, to help them keep energy wealth in their community. A sign at the community garden solar site educates passerbys about residential solar and provides contact information so that they can start their own solar journey. The 7-kW system will save the homeowner $21,700 in electricity, but the benefit of this project goes much further, as the garden provides fresh fruits and vegetables to a community that’s in a food desert and plants the seed for solar growth throughout the neighborhood.
Developer: BayWa r.e. | Contractor: Jason Carney | Modules: JA Solar | Inverters: SolarEdge | Storage: LG Chem | Mounting: Quick Mount, Unirac
Dorado, Puerto Rico | 44-kW PV, 64 kWh storage, 12 kW generator
With exorbitant energy prices and an unreliable electric grid, most Puerto Rico residents end up overpaying for electricity that often never reaches their house. The owners of the Enclave project invested in a solar-plus battery system to become energy resilient and gain peace of mind knowing that their household would always have power, even if a catastrophic event like Hurricane Maria happens again. While the family previously used a standard generator for backup power, the solar-plus-storage system replaces their everyday need for the generator and ultimately saves additional gas and maintenance required for ongoing generator use. Additionally, the Blue Ion 2.0 and Sol Ark combination allows them to easily manage all of the household’s energy loads, should blackouts occur (and can still automatically start the generator if needed). The homeowner is projected to save over $18,000 a year on their electricity bills.
Developer: reSOLient | Modules: Znshine | Inverters: Sol-Ark | Storage: Blue Planet Energy | Mounting: Unirac
Pai Pai Families
Santa Catarina, Baja California, Mexico | 5.7 kW
Many indigenous communities in Baja California, Mexico, have been left out of infrastructure development projects, leaving families and entire communities without power or water in their homes. The Pai Pai are one such indigenous group. The modern Pai Pai people have maintained their traditional knowledge and now they make a living raising livestock, working on ranches or selling crafts. In June 2021, GRID Alternatives installed solar PV on 20 off-grid homes to power lights and AC appliances. Solar allows the families to read and study at night, charge cell phones, use kitchen appliances and have better access to news, communication, entertainment, and income-generating opportunities.
Developer / Contractor: GRID Alternatives | Modules: Au Optronics | Inverters: Morningstar Suresine 300W | Storage: Trojan Battery | Mounting: SnapNrack