AMtec Solar's Featured Installation
Contractor: Cupertino Electric’s Energy Alternatives Division
About: CEI provides expert engineering and construction services for a constantly evolving world (www.cei.com). The company’s Energy Alternatives Division designs, constructs and manages innovative solar and renewable energy solutions.
Cupertino Electric, Inc.’s (CEI) Energy Alternatives Division completed two ground-mount, solar photovoltaic (PV) stations totaling 35 Megawatts (MW) for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in California’s Central Valley on September 29, 2011. Construction of the aggressive schedule project began in April 2011 and is comprised of two sites: a 20-MW site in Helm, California (Stroud) and a 15-MW site located in Five Points, California (Westside).
The 20-MW Stroud Solar Station and 15-MW Westside Solar Station were designed and built by Cupertino Electric under a five-year, PG&E clean energy initiative, which includes up to 250 MW of utility-owned solar generation. The Stroud and Westside sites represent part of the first 50 MW of PG&E’s utility-owned generation. The generation plants are interconnected to the electric grid with the approval of California’s Independent System Operator (CAL-ISO) at local PG&E distribution substations.
“Our ability to optimize the PV solar station design and integrate innovative construction techniques allowed us to simultaneously deliver both solar PV stations cost-effectively and ahead of schedule,” said John Curcio, chief commercial officer for Cupertino Electric, Inc. “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with PG&E to advance PG&E’s renewable energy program and support job creation in the Central Valley.”
At the Stroud and Westside PG&E project sites, Cupertino Electric used AMtec combiner boxes with great success. Due to the positive PG&E project experience, Cupertino Electric plans to utilize Amtec combiner boxes on its latest solar project for PG&E currently under construction in Huron, California.
Project Manager, Cupertino Electric, Inc.
Contractor: Erickson Construction Electrical/Solar Division
About: A Full Service Contracting Firm Since 1990.
Building upon Excellence with Commitment, Creative Thinking and Attention to Detail.
Located in northern New Mexico, this 500kW solar-electric power system when completed will be the largest photovoltaic installation in the state to date. The system uses a ground mounted single axis tracker and is being installed for a utility co-op to shave peek hours of usage.
Over the years we at Erickson Construction have used a variety of brands and types of solar combiner boxes for our installations. On several of our projects we have used manufacturers that utilize NEMA 4 metal boxes with a heavy powder coating. In these cases the boxes worked well, but although they used quality stainless steel hardware we found that in the process of attaching the hardware, using screws or rivets, the holes made in the boxes produced rust locations in less than one year. In some cases the manufacturers used a stainless steel hinge, only the center post of the hinge was not stainless and therefore rusting also occurred. These rust markings are on the outside of the boxes and leave an unsatisfactory look to the project even if we do not end up with any failures.
Another problem we experience with powder coated metal boxes is that they do not seem to stand up to UV sunrays well. In most cases the powder coating seems to oxidize very rapidly. Once a layer of oxidation takes place the degradation of the powder coat will likely slow down, but it will still look unsightly. We warranty our installs for a period of ten years, and I’m afraid of what they may look like by the end of that period using the metal boxes.
We have found that the AMtec Solar fiberglass combiner boxes seem to withstand the UV sunrays better than the metal boxes, and that we end up with no rusting or ugly rust marks on the product after at least the first year. Some of our findings and complaints are only from a visual standpoint of the products, but when Erickson Construction Solar/Electrical Division is installing a system, we want it to last for the 20 years projected, and at that 20 years we want a system install to still look and function as it was originally intended.
We highly recommend AMtec Solar fiberglass combiner boxes.
Erickson Construction Solar/Electrical Division