PGE eats $1M in repair of vendor's botched solar installation
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
The thin-film solar installation, a partnership between Portland General Electric and ProLogis, resulted in some expensive repairs for PGE.
Portland General Electric will pay approximately $1 million to repair fire hazards in one of seven solar rooftops installed through a partnership with ProLogis.
Solar Integrated Technologies installed the poorly crafted rooftop array, made with thin-film Uni-Solar panels, in 2009. It was under warranty by the installer, but Solar Integrated Technologies' parent company declared bankruptcy in February, forcing PGE to shoulder the cost of repairs.
PGE partnered with ProLogis in 2009 for the project, which was much ballyhooed at the time as the largest in the Pacific Northwest. The partnership was the second of two that, combined, installed solar arrays on 10 warehouses owned by ProLogis covering 1,001,000 square feet of rooftops.
The total cost of the project was $21 million. Through the arrangement, PGE leases the rooftops from ProLogis and owns the solar arrays. Solar power accounts for between one and two percent of PGE’s power mix, 11 percent of which is renewable power.
"Aside from the one rooftop, all the other projects are working as advertised," said Kurt Miller, director of business model and program development for PGE. "Mostly it’s a success story."
The problem roof was constructed in the second round of solar arrays on ProLogis warehouses, which involved seven warehouses in Gresham, Portland and Clackamas. Three of those near the Portland airport were constructed from thin film, including the one with problems.
PGE learned from Solar Integrated Technologies that some of their installations may have had issues. Following a thorough check of all of the solar installations, they found a problem. While all of the panels were working on one rooftop, the terminations on those panels — each about the size of a dinner roll — were not properly sealed, posing a fire and safety risk by exposing the electrical connections to water.
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