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!!