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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Solar Installation - how long does it take?

I am often asked how long it took to build our solar installation in El Segundo.

The installation has approaching 3000 modules, a combination of a raised tracking system over the parking lot and fixed panels on the roof. It will produce just short of a 1 M KW hours of clean electricity per year.

From initial concept through to 'power on' it took us just about two years.

The idea was raised in February 07 by a colleague in our commercial contracting team who saw the window of opportunity with the CA incentive rebates. Much though I am disappointed I didn’t think of it (!) I am thrilled that employees throughout the organization are participating in environmental initiatives. The same colleague championed the project from start to finish.

With initial internal approval, we released the RFP in May and a vendor and solution was decided upon in July. A couple of design alterations required renegotiation and extended the timeline.

We held a big public launch event with HRH Prince Andrew and BT Chairman Sir Michael Rake in February 08 and work commenced in earnest in the summer of 08. Much of the work was below ground or on the roof, so although progress was being made, little was visible at the site until towards the end of the calendar year. Finally, in a short period of only a few weeks at the end of the 08 calendar year, the panels went up on the raised lot over only a couple of weeks. January and February 09 saw some testing, approval and sign off process and here we are now with a working system.

I am sure there are a couple of places where progress could have been quicker. But with four parties involved, financing partner, integrator, ourselves and our landlord, there are inevitably a number of things that have to be socialized and agreement reached and I am pretty pleased with the time line.

We have just launched an employee residential solar program for our US employees. I plan to provide some insights into how that is going in a future post.

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