Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Book Exchange Hosts the Largest Solar Installation in West Virginia

The Book Exchange, Inc. of Morgantown, WV hosts the largest PV (solar electric) system in the state. The system harvests power from the sun using a group of fifty-two solar panels mounted to the roof of the Evansdale store location.

Most students hurrying in to grab a textbook, school supplies, or Mountaineers sweatshirt will overlook the addition to the roof – that’s the beauty of a PV system. By nature, PV systems are inconspicuous. They operate silently, and with no moving parts, can easily blend into the cityscape.

The Book Exchange is a long established family business which places a strong emphasis on customer service and WVU school spirit. Its place in the Morgantown community is noteworthy not only for the retail services to students and alumni, but also for its commitment to community life and culture in the city.

The Fleming family, who owns the business, is leading by example. Not only is the 12-kW PV array the largest in the state, it is also the only PV system installed on a commercial building in all of Morgantown. The decision to forge ahead with this project reflects the Fleming’s desire to be good stewards of the environment, responsible corporate citizens, and savvy business owners.

PIMBY Energy designed and installed the PV system. Allegheny Power made the final interconnection on August 13, 2010. The fifty-two PV panels were manufactured in Oregon by SolarWorld which is the largest PV manufacturer in the U.S. The system is connected to the grid for net metering and does not use any batteries. Annually, the system produces about 10% of the store’s energy demand and it offsets the generation of more than eleven tons of CO2 gas emissions. Online production monitoring was enabled on November 16, 2010.

Financial incentives, including a 30% federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation, coupled with an emerging Renewable Energy Credit market allow for an expected payback in just over seven years. Once paid off, the system is forecasted to provide more than $4,000 each year in income. That works out to an ROI of 14% - a return that few market investments can match.

The Book Exchange at 342 Patteson Drive in Evansdale next to Kroger

Jonathan and a short stack of the 230-watt modules used on the Book Exchange. The white surface of the roof makes for a bright work site (think snow). I'm curious to see if the reflective nature of the roof improves the expected output of the PV panels.

Anita, Jonathan, and I following the final wiring of the PV system late last May

Installation of the last of fifty-two 230-watt SolarWorld modules

Chris modeling the two 6-kW SMA inverters. Power production from the inverters is available online through the SunnyPortal.

Dave Bartrug (Allegheny Power) and I at the system commissioning last August

A long lists of thanks is in order for all the people who helped bring this project to light (pun intended and cerainly misused).

  • Matt, John, Dolores, Amanda and all of the Book Exchange staff
  • Kroger at Evansdale
  • City of Morgantown
  • Allegheny Power
  • Dana Berrry of Berry's Electrical Services (an outstanding electrician - if you need an electrician in the Morgantown, WV area these are the guys to call 304-599-7213)
  • H&H Hardware (for all of the heavy lifting and all the help with orders)
  • The late John Fleming (who introduced me to a wonderful community of friends and family)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Install of an 8.6-kW Solar Array in Hampshire County, West Virginia

We had beautiful weather last week (and a beautiful place to work). This is an 8.6-kW PV array at Dovedale Farm in Hampshire County, West Virginia. The farm is celebrating its centennial this year.

In the photo, Chris and Rob are making the wire connections between the PV panels that make up the second of three rows.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chipper Answers Your Prius Questions


How much solar electricity can you stuff into a Prius and still drive it safely?


1170 watts:

Thanks Chip!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WDTV News Coverage "Couple Builds Energy Efficient Home in Preston County"

Karilynn Galiotos from WDTV Channel 5 spent a few hours at last weekend's Open House in Hazelton, West Virginia. She compiled a really nice piece for the news channel complete with video of the solar, wind turbine, and interviews with the owners and the general contractor. You can read a transcript on the WDTV website.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Great Home and a Great Day for an Open House

Great weather and fantastic attendance marked the October 23 Open House event at Karen and Larry's home near Hazelton, WV. With the sun shining and the wind blowing the electric meter was racing backward.

There was a lot of interest in the solar thermal system which heats the home and also provides the domestic hot water. Jonathan Sherman from Berkeley Home Technologies acted as the GC on the construction of the house and was available for questions regarding all aspects of the home's construction and operation.

One aspect of the home that I really enjoyed seeing was the wide use of LED lighting. Here is an example of some can-style recessed LED lighting in one of the rooms. LEDs were also in use in closets, under counters and as cove lighting in the main sitting room. The electricity making these lights glow is all coming from the home's 2.7kW PV array and 2.5kW wind turbine. PIMBY Energy installed the hybrid wind and solar electric system which is grid-tied for net metering and also has battery-backup.

The house looked great inside and out. Would you believe that those countertops are made from recycled paper!?

A BIG thanks to Mr BIG for the use of this and several other nice shots!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Solar and Wind Power on Display in Hazelton, West Virginia - Oct. 23, 2010

Karen and Larry are inviting the world to come visit on October 23, 2010 from 1PM - 4PM.

Curious about.........?

Solar Thermal, Solar Electric (PV), Wind Power, ICF Blocks, SIP Panels, Spray Foam Insulating, Radiant Heating, LED Lighting, Net Metering, Passive Solar, Energy Efficient Appliances, Battery-backup, etc…

Meet the owners of the Clister/Findley residence and talk with the contractors who designed and constructed this ultra efficient dwelling near Hazelton, West Virginia.

The Open House event is scheduled from 1PM to 4PM on Saturday October 23, 2010. Hazelton, West Virginia is close
to Morgantown, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Kingwood and the rest of God's green acre in the beautiful north central part of the Mountain State. This is a showpiece of some of the best existing and emerging building technologies - it is well worth the drive!

Directions to the Open House

From US 68

· Take the Hazelton exit (exit 29)

· Go south for ~3 miles

· Turn Right onto Cherry Grove Road

· Go ~ 1 mile

· Turn Right onto Bolyard Road (look for Open House/Solar Tour Signs)

· Go 0.5 mile and you're there (can't miss it!)

Questions? (304) 704-5943

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Talkin' Solar - Audio From Summer '09 Solar Tour of Davis and Thomas, West Virginia

Chipper (Mr BIG) and I with a mutual friend (Winter 2010 - Thomas, WV)

Mr BIG has compiled audio from a tour that we took back in the Summer of 2009 where we looked at a couple of solar (PV) installations in Davis and Thomas, West Virginia. These installations are both grid-tie or net metering jobs. The conversation ranges from energy use to system sizing and net metering requirements. I have a hard time listening to myself talk and so I feel very grateful to Chipper/Mr BIG for taking the time to not only record, but also edit the audio and include some stills to help illustrate what we were talking about.

Take a look & listen:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The West Virginia Solar Tour 2010 (Oct 2)

The American Solar for Energy Society helps local organizations and homeowners publicize an annual tour of homes with solar electric (PV) and solar hot water systems. More than 3,000 communities across the U.S. will host solar tours on Saturday October 2.

A 52-panel PV array at the Book Exchange. This is one of the solar electric (PV) projects that will be on the Morgantown Solar Tour.

This year ASES Nationa Solar Tour sites include a solar hot water system in Naoma, West Virginia as well as several solar electric and solar hot water systems in Morgantown, West Virginia. These tours give the public a chance to see renewable energy technology at work within their own community.

To learn more about the Naoma, West Virginia solar tour contact:

Cathy Kunkle @ 304-854-2182

To learn more about the Morgantown, West Virginia solar tour contact:

John Garlow @ 304-276-3655

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wind Turbine in Highland County, VA

I was over in Highland County today and was again reminded about how truly beautiful that area is. The following video shows a 2.5kW turbine that is located on the flank of Snowy Mountain. You can read more about this turbine by clicking here.

The video shows the turbine coming to life and then reaching a fairly good speed. It is a nice progression and the video shows the same machine from a couple of angles. The machine weight is a bit more than 300 lbs. It is an ARE110 with a blade length of about 6'. The nameplate rating of 2.5kW denotes the amount of power that the machine can output at peak wind speed (~26mph). If the wind speed is less, then the resulting power will also be less.

This turbine was originally installed in the Spring of 2009 by PIMBY Energy. It is on a 100' tower and uses an 8' stub tower to provide additional clearance for the turbine blades

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Winter To Remember on Snowy Mountain

Go straight to the article, A Winter to Remember on Snowy Mountain by Keith Carson & Polly Newlon

Shortly before New Years I got a call from Keith saying that he'd gone out that morning only to find his wind turbine on the ground - 100' lower than it should have been. That's a problem.

Keith and Polly are customers of mine who live off the grid in Highland County, VA. Here's a photo of Keith (left) and his neighbor Dave as they work on disassembling the wrecked machine. We spent the first day of 2010 cleaning up this mess.

Keith and Polly have authored a great article about their winter and how losing the turbine affected their off-grid lifestyle. It is a nice read and it was originally printed in the Highland Recorder early in June.

The tower manufacturer had under-engineered the stub pipe (seen in the photo above) and this resulted in the failure. It also put Keith and Polly in a tight spot because they depend on the wind turbine for a greater portion of their electricity in the winter months. Needless to say, I was relieved to get a new turbine back up on the tower and so were they.

Below is a photo of Chris bolting up the new machine in preparation for the crane. Note that things are much less snowy on Snowy Mountain. You can see Keith and Polly's home in the background as well as the lowest section of their 100' turbine tower.

Keith took the following photos of the actual pick..........................................

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taproot Farm Taps Power from the Sun

Many thanks to Beth at Taproot Farm in Hampshire County, WV who reminded me that blogs don’t have to be great literary works – they just need to be consistent and interesting (or consistently interesting?!?!). Thanks!!!!

Taproot Farm is poised to come on line as one of West Virginia’s newest solar power plants. Beth and her husband Tim contracted PIMBY to install a very nice 5-kW PV system on a pavilion adjacent to their home on the banks of the Cacapon River.

Allen, Beth and Tim’s youngest, worked with us on the install. Allen is just back from a 2-week course at Solar Energy International (SEI). There’s no better way to apply all of that learning than to get right into an installation.

Sun at Work (almost)

Son at Work

Guys on the Roof at Work

PIMBY Truck at Work

Bees (really) at Work

More Bee Work!
Meet the newest hive at Taproot Farm.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bird Kills Turbine: Lives to Tell

Bird and bat kills are an issue that utility-scale wind farms deal with. Small residential-scale wind turbines do not pose a similar hazard. But recently I witnessed a situation where a small wind turbine in West Virginia became the victim of bird activity.

In an ironic twist, I went to see the wind turbine that was out-of-order owing to an infestation of starlings. I’m calling it a “turbine kill” and I think that I might encourage my friends at the USFWS to investigate the incident.

More often we hear about bird or bat kills occurring at utility-scale wind farms. Bird and bat kills are real problems associated with the location of wind farms along routes that are traditionally used for migration. These kills can number in the hundreds of animals. They’re bad news.

Small wind turbines don’t pose the same threat to birds and bats. I have yet to talk with a customer or a long-time wind turbine owner who can recollect a bird or bat fatality at their site. Small turbines are sited differently and are simply a different scale. More often they serve as perches for birds…………………………………..and evidently that can be trouble for a turbine.

I’d evicted a nest of birds from this same machine more than a year ago. They made it back in and set up house (probably while the wind turbine controller was in the shop this past November). Unfortunately for the birds, turbine owners, and myself the nest that was constructed was built on the main terminal block in the head of the turbine. Once the upgraded controller was placed in service and the machine began to again operated things in the new nest got hot. Things got hot enough to smolder and melt the terminal block and short circuit the wind turbine.

What a mess!

Here are a couple of nest shots

And here's the melted terminal strip

The machine is up and running again. I captured a short video while I was down at the farm.