I’ve been involved with numerous PV projects here on our campus.
- When you start the selection process, you should figure out what the load is you’re trying to meet. If you’re trying to meet an on-site load, you want to get a year of utility bills, figure out what your utility rate structure is, and figure out your electrical interconnection requirements. Is there net metering? Are there incentives? Those sorts of things
- Then the next step in the process is, once you select the sites, to figure out possible electrical interconnection points and constraints. So, we’ve considered dozens of sites here on our campus, it’s about a 300-acre campus. We’ve considered ground-mount, roof-mount, and carports. For the ground-mount sites, one of them considered actually was the one in the background here
Nice and flat. Good utility interconnection. But it turns out we have future plans for that site. So what we settled on was a large ground-mounted site on our mesa top that was previously disturbed. And we put in about 3/4 of a megawatt of single-axis tracking on that site. Single-axis tracking requires very flat land, so they had to come out and do some grading as you can see for the land.
The one constraint we had on this site is there’s an existing 50-foot wide easement for a natural gas line that we had to work around. When we went out to bid with that, we had the site plans drawn, including the 50-foot easement. In considering sites, bigger is better. The lowest cost solar will always be the largest, flattest, easy-to-interconnect piece of land but again you got to make sure there are no future plans for that land. The next lowest cost will be large, flat, open rooftops, and the most expensive will be PV carports, because of the structure required for the PV carports.