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BEn SIEBER T
2-Megawatt Distributed PV Project is
Largest on a Public Housing System
The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, Calif., (HACSB) in August commissioned a 2-megawatt rooftop photovoltaic project, providing 100 percent of the energy used in 863 hous- ing units on 250 buildings, at 21 sites around the county. The system uses 7,438 Solar World 235- to 245-watt modules installed by Planet Solar. The project was managed by Planet Solar COO Paul
Metzner, who arranged $12.8 million in financing through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
funding and Treasury grants. For HACSB, the project was free.
With that many roof surfaces, the company faced a wide variety of design challenges. Ben Siebert, CEO
of Planet Solar, reports hiring 17 new employees, but they didn’t work directly on the project. “We wanted
only experienced crews on the roofs for this one,” he said. So the new hires freed up the time so the 20 best
rooftop personnel could focus on the project for five and a half months.
Smaller duplex buildings got 4-kilowatt (k W) arrays feeding Enphase inverters — more than 1,000 D380
units. Larger buildings, with arrays up to 30 k W, used more than 150 SMA Sunny Boy inverters. Tilted roofs
got Professional Solar Products racking systems, and some flat roofs used DPW ballasted racks. Every piece of
equipment was American-made. For additional roof space, Baja Construction built a number of carports.
“It was probably the most complex project of its kind in the country,” Siebert said. “We dealt with three
utility districts and six permitting jurisdictions.” — Se Th MaSia