Our Process: 4 Steps & You’re Ready to Go

Through winter weather and the holidays, PickeringEnergy Solutions, LLC (PES) completed another commercial Solar PV installation at Integrated Geriatric Care, PLLC.  This is a specialty medical practice located in Parkersburg, WV.  The time-frame for the entire process, described below, covered a period of less than 12 weeks.  In this and subsequent projects, our installation process follows four mains steps:

(1) Energy and Property Analysis

(2) Design and Contract Options

(3) Installation and Grid Connection and

(4) Monitoring and Maintenance.

The on-site energy analysis, begun at week zero, concluded that the office rooftop was suitable (less than 5 years old and in good shape, southern facing and nearly shade free) for a rooftop Solar PV system.  The previous 12 months power bill was reviewed and a Solar Pathfinder report was completed.  This data was used to determine array sizing.  The business owner was provided pricing, a description of tax incentives and an estimate on the return on investment.

For a commercial installation, the federal tax incentives include a 30% business energy investment tax credit (ITC) and the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) plus Bonus Depreciation.   Under the federal MACRS, businesses may recover investments in solar energy systems through depreciation deductions.  The allowance for the Bonus Depreciation has been extended and modified several times since the original enactment, most recently in January 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8, Sec. 331). This legislation extended the placed in service deadline for 50% first-year bonus depreciation by one year, from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2013.

To offset on average 80% of the electric energy used by the business, a 60 panel (250 W/per panel) grid intertied system was designed.  A grid connected system does not require the expense of energy storage as the excess energy produced but not used is fed back into the power grid.  The business owner decided to contract with SES to purchase the energy produced while SES would own and maintain the system (i.e., Power Purchase Agreement).  The building owner will have the option to ultimately purchase the power system at a discounted price.  The contract was signed and installation date scheduled at week three.

PES filed for a city building permit, completed a structural engineering report of the roof, and began the design of the electrical system modifications.  The materials for the system (solar panels, micro inverters, wiring) arrived and the installation was staged for no interruption of the medical practice.  At week six, the actual installation was ready to begin.

The first step of the rooftop installation was securing the mounts to the building supports through the roof and then connecting the racking system.  The installers had written drawings of the layout to follow.  Crew safety on a rooftop is paramount and there were several delays due to foul weather.  On bad weather days, the interior (attic and utility room) electrical connections took place.  The power company required an emergency disconnect for the Solar PV system on the outside of the building for utility or fire personnel.  All of the PV equipment was installed and tested but not commissioned by week nine.

The power company gave preliminary and then final approval of the project.  On preliminary approval, a new bi-directional digital meter with LCD readout was installed.  The final letter of approval was given at week twelve and the system has been performing as projected.  Both the business owner and PES are able to monitor the output of the system and each of the individual components of the system via the internet.  If any component fails PES will be notified of the component failure and will arrange for its prompt replacement.  The panels and the micro inverters are guaranteed for 25 years.

About SES:

Established in 2012, Pickering Energy Solutions is a growth oriented company focused on making renewable energy systems a reality for residential and commercial building owners through direct sales or through a Power Purchase Agreement or Power Leasing arrangement.

About the Author:

Lance McCoy serves as Communications Director for Pickering Energy Solutions.  Lance is a green-minded entrepreneur and has completed course work in basic photovoltaics.