A step-by-step, start-to-finish overview of a Smucker’s Energy Agricultural system installation and start-up.
145KW 3-Phase Agricultural Installation with a 602-Panel PV Solar Array with 1 Solectria 95KW & 2 Solectria 13KW three-phase inverters (Includes Service Upgrade from Single Phase to Three-Phase).
Smucker’s Energy met with the client to determine what type of system would best accommodate the needs of the Slaymaker Family Farm, including the location of the solar arrays and the system size necessary to supply the farm’s power needs. Site visits, energy usage information, and customer preference were all instrumental in this stage of the process. After all these factors were taken into consideration, a contract was generated to be signed by the client.
After the contract was signed, the Smucker’s Design Team reviewed the project specs and began engineering the project. This includes the assessment of many factors, such as the distance of the trusses, wind and snow load, building load capacity, electrical interconnection locations, etc. This information is used in the engineering of the stamped drawing set, which includes an electrical one line drawing, site plan, and roof layout. When the drawings are complete, it is sent along with Part A of the Interconnection Application and the utility connection review to the local utility to approve the system. (In this particular instance, a service upgrade was needed to accommodate the installation of the solar array. The original service was single phase; the upgrade was made to three-phase. Moving to three-phase is preferable for many farm and commercial operations to accommodate the on-site equipment.) At the same time this is taking place, the stamped drawings are sent to local jurisdiction to acquire a work permit for the system. While these various forms are under review, the ordering of the specific components (modules, inverters, and racking) for the system takes place. After the permit and letters of agreement are received from all entities, the drawings and application are sent to the state grant program to reserve funds for the project from the state-funded solar incentive program, and installation of the system begins.
Work began on the system installation less than two days after the building permit was received. Panel racking was affixed to the standing seam roof (this kind of roofing allows racking to be attached without penetration), and the solar panels were attached safely and securely. A conduit was installed, connecting the panels to the three Solectria three-phase inverters in the barn. Once the conduit was in place, the wire was pulled through and connected, completing the electric circuits from the solar panels to the inverter inputs and from the inverter outputs to the main AC distribution panel.
Thorough testing of the system was conducted by Smucker’s Energy to ensure that all components were fully functioning. Once the installation and testing was complete, arrangements were made for official inspections. Officials from the local utility, a third-party inspection firm, and from the state grant program were required to inspect the work prior to startup. After the final inspection was complete, Part B of the Interconnection Application form was submitted and sent for approval with the inspection cut card, and following approval the system was switched on and began making clean, green energy.
In order for the client to begin accumulating green energy credits from their PV system, it must be registered in a few ways with the correct programs. In this case, since the installation is located in Pennsylvania, it had to first be registered with the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Program (PA-EPS). Once registered, PA-EPS provides a certification number. This number is used to register the system with GATS (Generation Attribute Tracking System). The GATS system is what tracks the solar production over time. GATS turns the meter readings into actual SRECs that are ready to sell. For each 1,000 KWH (1 MWH) the system produces, the owner will receive one green energy credit that can be sold on a market much like that of a carbon market model. These credits are accumulated regardless of whether the client uses the energy the system produces or if it is pumped back onto the local utility grid. Green Energy Credits in Pennsylvania are called AECs (Alternative Energy Credits); other states refer to them as RECs or SRECs (Renewable Energy Credits and Solar Renewable Energy Credits, respectively). As a courtesy to our clients, Smucker’s Energy provides an aggregation service to handle all of your SRECs including all the paperwork; or you are free to enlist an aggregator of your choice.
This system was also enabled with Internet Monitoring, allowing the owner to monitor the system’s energy output via the Web to ensure peak production at all times. For larger systems, the ability to track the specific output of a system can be invaluable if it is noticed right away that part of the system may be underperforming. This allows the client to quickly contact Smucker’s Energy to resolve any issues that may occur after the system is turned on.