EI Solutions specializes in the design and installation of large-scale, polyphase solar power systems. Here are just some examples of our recent solar energy projects.
Nontraditional company gets nontraditional design.
92% solar powered. Environmentally sensitive site.
“Smart engineering offset 92% of our power bill, while respecting the wetlands environment adjacent to our facility. EI Solutions engineered a foundation that maximized our land use, and minimized the visual impact of the installation.”
- Mark Williams, Water District Manager
Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District (LGVSD), located on the shores of San Pablo Bay just north of San Francisco, provides sewer services to over 32,000 residents of Marin County. On average, the District treats 3.56 million gallons of wastewater per day. The facility relies on power-hungry station pumps to send reclaimed water between the District’s ponds and irrigation systems. LGVSD was interested in reducing its energy bills through the use of solar power.
The building site for the district’s proposed solar array rested entirely on bay mud, an unstable and dynamic soil type common to shoreline regions in the Bay Area.
The Smart Solution: Clever engineering
Because of the unstable soil conditions at the site, the EI Solutions engineering team needed to overcome several significant challenges when developing the solar power system. The team solved the problem by designing a custom grade-beam foundation that would minimize the potential problems of uneven settling of the soil beneath the array structure.
After developing an energy load profile for the District’s Reclamation Pump Station, the team was able to determine the optimal system size to offset energy usage under local weather conditions. Finally, EI Solutions ran a number of utility rate scenarios to determine the best approach for maximizing the cost savings for LGVSD.
Thanks to the optimization efforts of EI Solutions, the system is expected to pay for itself in about 11 to 12 years, and will then provide approximately 20 additional years of “free” electrical power to the District. In the first year of operation alone, energy savings have been projected to exceed $156,000. “The fact that the system will eventually pay for itself made it an easy decision to go solar,” says Megan Clark, board member of Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District. “Plus we’re reducing our impact on the atmosphere by receiving a full 92% of our power from clean solar
Pharmaceuticals (Supplements, HCG, African Mango)
Smart, simple design provides maximum reliability.
Berlex, the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG Germany, is a specialty pharmaceutical company headquartered in New Jersey. The company maintains a research and manufacturing site in Richmond, California that produces drugs that treat multiple sclerosis, cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, osteoporosis, and more. As part of the company’s ongoing initiative to be good corporate citizens worldwide, plus save on its energy costs, Berlex was looking to install solar power at its California plant.
To ensure its investment would continue to pay off over the long term, Berlex wanted an extremely reliable solar power system that would deliver nearly trouble-free operation over its expected 30-year lifespan.
The Smart Solution: Simple, robust design
EI Solutions designed an elegantly simple solar system with a small number of pre-engineered components to minimize breakdowns, downtime, and other problems. To further boost reliability, only established suppliers who back their products with 100% validation, thorough testing, and long warranties were specified in the design. EI Solutions also performed a detailed shading analysis to be sure that the building would not shade the solar array, allowing the system to deliver maximum power and savings to Berlex.
Impressed by the dependability and cost savings offered by its first solar power system, Berlex soon asked EI Solutions to design and install a second, larger, ground-mounted system for another building at their Richmond location.
Design flexibility allows for last-minute client changes.
Since first planting grapes in 1895, four generations of the Seghesio family have tended the vineyards at their award-winning Seghesio Winery in Healdsburg, California. Thanks to its grape-processing equipment, refrigeration units, bottling machinery, air conditioning, and other energy-hungry devices, the company was looking for ways to reduce its electricity bill. After considering other solar power companies, Seghesio chose EI Solutions. “At some point, you just have to trust your gut about these things,” says Pete Seghesio, CEO. “We just had the sense that EI Solutions would pay the same attention to detail that we do in our winemaking and result in the same high-quality product.”
Working with the engineering and design teams at EI Solutions, Seghesio initially approved a solar energy system that would be concentrated on two roof surfaces, and would provide maximum energy output. But as the PV panels were being installed, the family requested some last-minute changes to the arrangement of the panels.
The Smart Solution: A flexible, customer-centric installation
To meet the client’s changing needs, the EI Solutions engineering and construction team re-worked its design right on site. The team literally thought on its feet, modifying the layout so that more of the PV panels would rest on the stronger of the two roofs. Best of all, the newly designed system still delivered the expected amount of solar power, given the presence of some beloved trees, which the family is reluctant to alter lest it impact the aesthetic of the winery. “EI Solutions set accurate expectations, and then delivered what they promised, on time,” says Pete Seghesio. “Their flexible attitude made sure we got the solar energy system that’s right for us.”
The Seghesio Winery solar power system has cut the facility’s monthly power bill in half. The company has been so pleased with the energy savings that they plan to invite EI Solutions to add a second solar power array, atop the new fermentation facility the winery will be building in 2007.
Estate Residence Addition
Swinerton Property Services
40% savings on power bills. 0% downtime.
Swinerton Incorporated offers construction services throughout the Western United States to a diverse range of business clients that demand exacting performance. Swinerton has long recognized the importance of employing construction and design practices that achieve the conservation of energy, water, and other resources. To follow up on its commitment to “green” building, the company contracted with EI Solutions to install solar power at its data center in Concord, California.
Because of the mission-critical nature of its data center, Swinerton could not afford to have the facility shut down at any time during the transition to solar power.
The Smart Solution: Intelligent application of innovative products
Because the actual switchover to the new solar system had to be accomplished without turning off Swinerton’s high-voltage electrical supply system, EI Solutions had to plan and execute the installation with extra care. Once the new PV system was totally in place, EI Solutions took the unusual step of making a “live” switch from the regular power grid. Throughout the delicate process, Swinerton was kept apprised of the situation so they knew what to expect every step of the way.
Utilizing detailed energy usage data and solar performance modeling software to estimate potential energy production, EI Solutions engineered a system to replace 34% of the energy consumption for two of Swinerton’s buildings. As a result of a carefully tailored savings strategy, the system now saves over 40% on energy bills by taking advantage of time-of-use energy pricing. Utilizing cash rebates, tax credits and other financial benefits, Swinerton expects the system to pay for itself in just under seven years.
Marin County Government
Smart choice of materials minimizes potential problems.
In response to the California energy crisis of 2001, Marin County began looking for opportunities to reduce its energy usage. The first site to be selected was the County’s General Services Building next to the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center. The building houses the garage, roads crew, and radio shop. The County first did an analysis of its power consumption, then reduced its energy use through a series of projects to improve the building’s insulation, lighting, and ventilation systems. Next, it wanted to generate its own power using clean solar power.
Like many building managers considering solar energy, Marin County had concerns about the system’s potential impact on the facility’s roof. Would roof penetrations cause leaks? Would a solar array make roof access more difficult? Would there be wind loading problems or excessive standing loads?
The Smart Solution: Intelligent use of the right materials
To answer the concerns of the Marin Civic Center, the EI Solutions team recommended the Sunroof FS mounting system, manufactured by RWE Schott Solar. This flat-roof mounting system is self-ballasting and requires no roof penetrations. “Self-ballasting” means that the combined weight of the mounting system and solar modules is sufficient to keep the solar array in place under wind and seismic loads. The system has also passed wind tunnel testing up to 110 mph and weighs less than 3.5 lbs/ sq. foot when installed and is made of stainless steel. Plus the design of the array allows maintenance crews easy access to the roof when necessary.
On an annual basis, the Marin County solar array satisfies 84% of the building’s energy demands. Using a combination of net-metering and time-of-use rates, the system is capable of zeroing the building’s annual energy bill even though the system does not completely replace its entire energy usage.
Based on EPA emissions data, the Marin Civic Center solar array will prevent emissions of 79,593 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2), 72 lbs of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 22 lbs of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per year.
Maximizing solar output on a minimal budget.
Pet Camp, a San Francisco-based pet care business, provides care for as many as 180 dogs and cats a day. Located in the city’s Hunter’s Point neighborhood, Pet Camp operates a 12,000 square foot facility dedicated exclusively to high-quality pet care. In addition to boarding and feeding city pets, Pet Camp provides organized play time and one of the only pet swimming pools in the Bay Area. Thanks to its energy-hungry pet dryers, industrial laundry machines, refrigerators, pool pumps, lighting, and HVAC system, the company wanted to find a way to reduce its hefty monthly electric bills.
As a small, locally owned business, Pet Camp was looking for creative financing options that would make solar power an affordable option for the company.
The Smart Solution: Creative financing
The EI Solutions engineering team started with energy usage data provided by Pet Camp’s utility to develop a detailed profile of the facility’s energy usage. Referencing this profile, the team used solar modeling software to determine the appropriate solar power system size to maximize system output and financial savings.
EI Solutions then secured payment for 50% of the project’s costs through the PG&E Self Generation Incentive Program in the form of a direct cash rebate. EI Solutions also provided turnkey tax-oriented lease financing through one of its financing partners. The lease payments are only slightly more than the energy savings from the system.
Because EI Solutions helped them to navigate the maze of regulations and financing options, Pet Camp got a solar power system that a small business might not be able to attain on its own. In addition, their tax situation didn’t enable Pet Camp to take advantage of the usual tax incentives for solar power. So, EI Solutions recommended a tax-oriented lease, and connected them with a leasing company that supplied them with advantageous financing.