The first step in the installation process is to decide on a location. Most of you have submitted a location that you have chosen as part of your grant application, but there are times in which the site you have chosen cannot be the site for the pole. This is why we do a site survey with you to confirm the location you have chosen and to check for any technical difficulties with the location.
When we are selecting a site, the following factors should be considered:
- Highly visibility: Choose a site close to a science classroom, garden or outdoor education area
- Proximity to the point of interconnection: Your system will be tied to the PG&E grid. The systems will be wired into a local panel and must be installed as close as possible to the PG&E electric meter
- Good solar access: The panel should be in a secure locations with limited shading
Some people ask, “Why don’t you put the solar panels up on the roof? There are three primary reasons. First, systems that are out of sight are often out of mind. The pole mounted solar panel serves as a highly visible monument to remind students, teachers and members of the community of our responsibility to our environment. It is our hope that the panel will serve as inspiration for students to ask tough questions about the wonders of solar energy.
Second, each PG&E solar school will have the exact same installation. The systems are engineered to ensure consistent data from each school. The PG&E Solar Schools Program provides a commercial grade data monitoring system that tracks the complete energy and environmental performance of all of the systems installed. By maintaining the integrity of identical systems in each of our solar schools located throughout northern and central California, students will be able to compare data to answer questions such as: Will a school in San Francisco produce more or less solar energy as a school in Merced?
Lastly, the diamond shaped “solar panel on a stick” is a badge of honor. It represents your commitment to the children in your school, not only as students, but as citizens of the community. There are currently 60 schools throughout California who have received solar installation grants as part of the PG&E Solar Schools Program. Congratulations, you are now part of the team!
As a part of the installation process, you must designate one person at the school with “signatory authority” to sign an interconnection agreement. We will also need a copy of the school/district’s insurance policy. Once the system is complete, we will need a final inspection letter signed. We know that paperwork is never fun, but don’t be afraid, we will walk you through this process and are here to answer any questions your may have.
Solar School Drawing
Solar School Installation
An illustrated description of the installation process.
PG&E Data Systems
One of the parts of the PG&E Solar Schools Program is live data collection. This means that a data system is added to every PG&E solar school installation so that anyone can go to this web site and find how much electricity is being generated by that particular system. When you visit each school page or any of the non-school, non-profit projects you should be able to locate the link above the picture of the installation that says:
“Show Solar Data”
If you click on that link, you should be able to see the data for that particular location.
There are two basic data collection systems in the PG&E Solar Schools Program. Some of the schools use a Fat Spaniel System and the other schools use a SolarGuard System. Fat Spaniel is a public company in San Jose, California and SolarGuard is a product owned by Solar City, a private company in Foster City, California. On some of the non-school, non-profit installations we have used a data system called “SunnyWebBox” owned by SunnyBoy, a company out of Germany with a support office in Sacramento, California.
If you have any questions about the data at a particular school, there is a “Data Person” listed with an e mail address.
If any of the schools have problems with their data system or have questions, there are several numbers to call for support.
Fat Spaniel: 1-800-824-9146
If you have any problem that cannot be solved by any of these other means, email us.