Weld County Ground Mount Solar Installations
Location: Weld County, Coloardo
Client: Silicon Ranch Corporation
Size: $5.9 Million
Guarantee of Colorado (GECO) provided electrical installation services in coordination with McCarthy Building Companies in the construction of three large scale ground solar fields: Valley View Solar (in Windsor); Skylark Solar (near Ft. Collins); and the Jesser site at Ft. Lupton, on behalf of the owner, Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association through its developer, Silicon Ranch Corporation, to develop large-scale renewable solar energy installations in Weld County, Colorado. The combined solar installations produce clean electrical power from nearly 300,000 solar modules, enough to power some 1,300 households. The solar initiative includes two Northern Colorado project sites of approximately 70 acres each; “Valley View Solar” is located in Greeley, near the Windsor substation, and “Skylark Solar” is located near Severance CO, close to the Carey substation.
In many respects, the Weld County Solar projects were routine, involving wiring the interconnection of PV modules back to combiner boxes, to the DC/AC inverters and out to the medium voltage transformers feeding power to the utility. Among the biggest challenges faced by the crews were posed by weather conditions as much of the installation took place in the winter of 2015-16 where cold temperatures, snow fall and snow removal were real factors affecting the installation. In several instances, the crew had to snow-blow and shovel snow out of open trenches in order stay on schedule.
In a project of this size, the issues were essentially how to manage very large solar installation in somewhat remote locations. It made sense, for example, to understand the developer’s approach to construction of large scale solar arrays, to which end, GECO’s estimating team and the project Superintendent visited a similarly designed site in Arkansas to get a better understanding of the client’s technical requirements in the field to develop a suitable project plan.
In addition to wiring nearly 300,000 solar modules at the three locations, Guarantee provided and installed ten equipment pads in all, each outfitted in all but one location with two inverters for converting DC to AC power together with a medium voltage transformer to assure even and usable power. In addition, at every location, GECO provided an auxiliary power system (disconnects, panelboards and low-voltage transformers) as well as fiber communications cabling, fiber patch panels and media converters. Finally, every location required installation of a riser utility pole tying the installation into the cooperative’s distribution system.