A step-by-step, start-to-finish overview of a Smucker’s Energy Agricultural system installation and start-up.
9.165 KW Agricultural Installation with a 39-Panel PV Solar Array and 1 KW wind generator with GVFX3524 Outback Hybrid Inverter (plus battery backup). Also installed: a 4.6 KW Residential PV Solar System.
During an aggressive grant program offering from the State of Pennsylvania, Smucker’s Energy met with the Jeff Beck household to determine what type of system would best accommodate the needs of the property, including the location of the solar arrays and the system size necessary to supply the power needs of the farm and home. The Beck farm featured an ideal solar situation in terms of roof orientation and pitch, as well as ground space in the rear of the property for a wind generator. After site visits and detailed information reviews with the customer, it was determined that the project would consist of a 9.2 KW solar system and 1 KW wind system. After a contract was signed and deposit secured, Smucker’s began the paperwork for the state grant program on behalf of the client.
After the contract was signed, the Smucker’s Design Team reviewed the project specs and began crafting a design plan based off this information. After the initial drawings were created, the integration of the customer’s requests began to take shape. Jeff Beck chose to connect his wind turbine to a GVFX3524 Outback hybrid (grid-tied with battery backup) inverter as an emergency power source. The battery pack was 24 volts. Because this inverter is connected to batteries and the grid, Jeff Beck can produce power for his home or the grid during normal operation, but can also sustain prolonged power outages by using the wind turbine and inverter to charge his batteries.
Meanwhile, the office crew began handling various aspects of the paperwork on behalf of the Beck family, which included the Interconnection Application form (Part A) and the utility connection review (to ensure that the local grid could accommodate the size of the solar system). These applications were fully prepared and submitted by the Smucker’s team on behalf of the client. The state grant program and the local utility also received the system design for approval, as well as the local township to receive a work permit for the installation. 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.
Jeff Beck’s system presented plenty of unique challenges that required careful engineering to resolve. For his wind turbine, Jeff chose to go with a mono pole tower with guide wires. This was a more aesthetically pleasing set-up than a lattice tower, and it did not require nearly as large of a foundation as a wireless mono pole. The pole was installed with a hinge on the bottom so that it can be lowered for routine maintenance and servicing.
Jeff Beck’s barn was a built according to the “German bank” style that was used quite often on barns in the Pennsylvania Dutch area throughout the counties of Lancaster and Chester. These rugged barns were built during the 18th and 19th centuries and included steep roofs with large roofing timbers. However, because this barn was not built according to modern roofing dimensions, determining a method to attach the racking to the roofing members was not easy. To overcome this challenge, racking was run in both north/south and east/west orientations to get the rails exactly where they needed to be for the module installation.
Thorough testing of the system was conducted by Smucker’s Energy to ensure that all components were fully functioning. Once the testing was complete, arrangements were made for 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.
A few years after the installation of his grid-tied solar system and the wind system, Jeff Beck decided to increase his emergency backup capacity by installing an additional solar system on his house roof. This system was hooked up to another hybrid inverter and an additional battery pack. Jeff Beck was able to put a 4.6 kW solar system on his house roof using 20 Sharp 230-watt modules. The solar system was regulated with two Midnight classic 250 charge controllers and the inverter was an Outback GS8048 inverter. The battery was a 48-volt battery pack.
As an additional item on his system, Jeff Beck chose to install a wire guard around the edges of his two solar systems to prevent rodents and birds from nesting underneath the solar modules.