Oregon Solar News

Effective Grounding: Oregon's New Frontier

By: Emily Hwang, Senior Applications Engineer

Oregon’s two largest utilities, Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, which jointly provide 70% of the state’s electricity, started requiring a majority of three-phase commercial photovoltaic (PV) installations to include effective grounding. They are joining a handful of U.S. utilities that already require it. Why is this number growing? With the increase of PV generation on the grid, utilities are growing more concerned about the risk of temporary overvoltage (TOV) possibilities on their lines. A distribution system that is not effectively grounded is significantly more susceptible to harm from TOV than a system that is. Significant TOV can cause great damage to distribution systems and connected equipment, both utility and customer owned, while presenting potential hazards to persons near their lines. Effective grounding uses impedance grounding to limit the fault current while allowing a limited and safer amount of overvoltage.

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Squaring the Circle: How to Check Visually if your Layout Meets the Maximum Allowable Design Voltage Drop

by: Foad Alvandi, P.E., Senior Design Engineer

One important constraint of PV solar design is maximum allowable voltage drop for both DC and AC circuits. These limits, which are often given in percentage points, are usually dictated by the energy model used for the project, or are based on best industry practices and are among crucial design requirements as they represent a cap on lost energy in the category of resistive losses.

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Solar design strategies that can help you compete

So far this year is the busiest on record for solar installers in Oregon and many contractors are looking for opportunities to be more efficient with the increase in volume. In a recent article for the Energy Trust's Insider blog, Pamela Cargill, Principal of Chaolysti, discussed the importance of creating a quality system design for every project. She points out that "a poorly planned or incomplete system design can lead to expensive rework throughout the project and eat away at customer satisfaction" for example if sales staff design a system that doesn't meet code or installation requirements, redlines can drive up project cost and effect the project timeline. Finding the right tools, creating process improvements or providing employee training can be time consuming and expensive, but consider the value to your company of a good quality system design from the beginning. Read the full article to learn about the importance of system design and how to select the right tools for your growing company.

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