McGrath

Project Profile

2017

Solar Electric

This 9.9 kW grid-tied hybrid solar electric array utilizes Hanwha Q-Cell modules  upon Schletter racking.

As featured in our September 2017 newsletter:

Three years have passed since we featured Chris McGrath in our employee spotlight in our September 2014 newsletter. Since that time, Chris has experience two exciting developments with us; he has become firmly established as a Project Manager and… he has gone solar! While it is always gratifying to share our customers’ solar stories, we thought it would it fun to mix it up and share “one of our own.”

As Chris tells it, he and his wife Susan, along with their two children, have always wanted to reduce their impact on the environment. However, it was when Chris decided to change careers after working for over 20 years in wildlife conservation and joined our team as a field technician in 2013 that it became a foregone conclusion that they would get solar. “We decided that we must take active steps to minimize our impact on the front end and reduce the impacts of our dependence on fossil fuels upon future generations.”

Three factors converged in 2015 to make it possible for Chris to install a 9.9 kW grid-tied hybrid (with battery back-up) solar electric system at his property in Leicester. First, he was able to take care of much of the installation work himself (enlisting the help of his kids!), they were able to take advantage of tax incentives, and, as a Sundance employee, he received system components at discounted price.   However, his installation was not without challenges, mostly due to the fact that his home is essentially in the woods.

An adjacent pasture proferred ample space for a ground-mounted solution, but the site was extremely rocky, which required trenching for the conduit run with “all sorts of heavy equipment”  a bridge had  to be built to ford a creek ,  and then lastly, the home’s electrical service was at the opposite point of entry for the pv power, leading to an even longer conduit run. Chris overcame these site obstacles by “being able to query the large storehouse of knowledge in the design team and the field operations branches of the company” and working over nights and weekends for a period of 6 months or so!

Now that he has reaped the benefits of his labor and his system has been producing clean power for over 2 years, he said he would absolutely do it all over again.  “In the first year, we just about broke even with our electricity production and use, so that was an awesome and empowering feeling.”  Chris calculates $1600 savings in electricity costs that year. “We did so well producing power that Susan traded in her Hybrid car for an Electric Vehicle.  We just love the combination of producing power for our car, as well as our home.”

With hurricane Irma just recently, Chris and his family benefitted from a seamless transition to a small battery back-up system during a 14 hour power outage from the utility. This was definitely an added value of his system design, although he says it was a difficult decision to include battery back-up and incur the additional costs. While there have been only a few instances to date where it has been needed, it offers a bit of peace of mind in the face of future storms or other reasons for utility outages.

Chris acknowledges the generous company policy that encourages employees to make the move to renewable energy, but Sundance is made stronger when our staff can become empowered by the technology we offer.  As a company, Sundance is a net-producer of electricity through the two solar arrays on our facilities, but that is another story!

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