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Jan 18, 2019

Community Solar Construction Q&A’s

At Nexamp, we’re working hard to build solar farms that can generate clean energy accessible to all. Building solar projects on rooftops and open land is what we know best and while each project is a little different, they all follow the same basic process. Here’s an introduction to how a Nexamp solar farm gets built.

What is solar construction?

Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like – the construction of a solar array! When identifying locations for our solar projects, we look for sites where it’s possible to interconnect to the utility grid while having a minimal impact on the natural state of the land. Additionally, we own and operate all of our solar projects and manage every stage of the process from project development to design and construction, through financing, operations and maintenance. In many cases, solar farming represents an opportunity for low-impact use that has a positive effect on climate change while allowing landowners to generate new income and preserve the rest of their land.

What happens after a site is identified for solar development?

Once a site is identified and we reach agreement with the property owner, permitting is the first stage of the process. During this process we work closely with municipalities to ensure we’re in compliance with environmental regulations and zoning laws. Local residents provide feedback that we consider and act on when finalizing our solar project plan.

At Nexamp, being good stewards of the land is a top priority when developing our solar farms. While we prioritize previously cleared land, there are projects where tree removal is needed to maximize the performance of clean energy production. We do not remove trees without careful awareness of the carbon math: solar farms help offset fossil fuel carbon emissions and do so to a greater degree than mature forests are able to sequester. We ensure land beneath and around the modules are reseeded to create natural meadow important for pollinators, birds, and small mammal species so that the project area remains a productive habitat.

When can construction of a solar farm begin?

When the project is permitted and we have approval from both the electrical and building inspectors to proceed, construction can begin. Finding the right people to complete the project is a critical component of the construction process so we make sure to spend time identifying the right team for each project. A Nexamp construction manager is on-site daily monitoring the installation of the equipment. Next, we conduct tests to ensure the array is working safely and properly. And because our crews are working year-round, we sometimes schedule extra time due to weather delays.

What is a witness test?

When construction is completed, interconnection with the local utility grid can begin. The most important step in this process is called a witness test.

A witness test is a test that all solar PV power plants require that ensures that all operational elements of the equipment are properly commissioned and connected to the grid. It’s a critical step to ensure that our solar project is working safely and effectively. Scheduling the witness test with our team and the utility’s team can sometimes be challenging, and with the rapid growth in the solar

industry, more and more projects are awaiting to be interconnected to the grid. Once the project has passed the witness test and the required paperwork is completed by the utility, the project goes live and starts generating clean, renewable energy directly from the sun.

How does solar energy affect the community?

Community solar farms are expanding around the country. The unique benefit of these programs is that they are very community oriented, enabling local job growth and more sustainable forms of generation for the local electricity grid. Here at Nexamp, we take the time to build relationships with the communities where we operate, because we believe community solar is as much about community as it is about clean energy. It’s about giving the power to shape our energy future to community members by making their land available for solar farming or subscribing to the solar farms once they are built.



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