2016 Project of Distinction Winners Announced | SEPA Skip to content

2016 Project of Distinction Winners Announced

A 104-year-old Illinois construction company, a Wisconsin electric cooperative, a Michigan affordable housing nonprofit and an Indiana school district are being recognized today for the innovative solar projects they have built and put online since the beginning of 2015.

Each will receive a Project of Distinction Award from the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) at Solar Power PV Conference & Expo – Chicago. The event and awards reflect the rising profile of the Midwest as an expanding solar market and the range of organizations that are responding to consumer demand for clean, reliable energy with well-designed projects that can serve as models for others.

The winners are:

Continental Construction Company, Illinois, for a 55-kilowatt (kW) solar installation,
backed up with a 114-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion storage system, which has allowed the construction firm to cut its energy costs and provide benefits to the grid. The solar plus storage system can be used as a mini-microgrid within the building itself, providing both grid-support services, such as frequency regulation, and a fast start in the event of a power outage. Estimated payback on the system is 5 years.
Project partners: Intelligent Generation, Chicago; and Navitas Systems, Woodbridge

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Dairyland Power Cooperative, Wisconsin, for its 18-MW solar portfolio, encompassing 14 sites in Wisconsin and Iowa, with installations ranging from 600 kw to 2.75 MW in size — all generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes. According to figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Dairyland’s portfolio will double solar generation in Wisconsin and is also the first large-scale deployment of single-axis tracker arrays in the state.
Project partners: SoCore Energy, Chicago; Faith Technologies Inc., Menasha, Wisconsin; Distribu-Gen Cooperative, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Habitat for Humanity, Traverse City, Michigan, for the Depot Neighborhood, an affordable housing development with net-zero, solar homes. The LEED-certified homes are constructed with high-efficiency lighting, heating and insulation, and will allow residents to monitor their energy consumption. Each home has a 7 KW solar system. The project was built with wide support from the community and local businesses.
Project partners: CBS Solar, Copemish, Michigan; Advantage Electric, Traverse City.


North Putnam Community Schools, Bainbridge, Indiana, for a 1.6-MW solar system combined with 300 kW (960 kWh) of storage that has made the school district the first in the state to run two of its buildings completely off solar energy. Wholly owned by the district, the project was financed with a Tax Exempt Lease Purchase (TELP) — and almost no incentives — and has provided a positive cash flow from the beginning. Expected payoff will be 11 years.
Project partners: Fronius USA, Portage, Indiana; Johnson Melloh, Indianapolis; and JLM Energy Storage, Rocklin, California.

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“The diversity of project types and the organizations developing them attest to the strength and vibrancy of the clean energy market in the Midwest,” said Julia Hamm, President and CEO of SEPA, who was not able to attend the conference. “The use of storage and other advanced distributed technologies in these projects — and the partnerships behind them — all signal the kind of cross-industry collaboration that is becoming a hallmark of the U.S. energy transition.”

“Solar is the fastest growing source of electricity in America and today’s winners – diverse in project type, location and scope – perfectly encapsulate why that’s the case,” said Tom Kimbis, interim president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Whether installed at a nonprofit, a corporate headquarters or a large open field, solar provides vast benefits and we applaud these projects for leading the way to cheaper, cleaner electricity for consumers here in the Midwest.”

To be eligible for a Project of Distinction Award, projects had to be completed and live between Jan. 1, 2015 and Nov. 10, 2016. Key criteria for the winners were innovation in use of technology, design, financing and collaboration; the benefits they provide to multiple stakeholders across their communities, and their replicability and development of best practices for the region.

Solar Power PV Conference & Expo – Chicago brings together hundreds of companies that want to grow the Midwest solar market. Regional leaders in the industry, including utilities and regulatory system, spend two days working together to find the best solutions to help the Midwest become a leading renewable energy region. The event is presented by two leading non-profits, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Unlike other solar industry events, all proceeds support the expansion of the US solar energy market through SEPA’s and SEIA’s year-round research and education activities, as well as SEIA’s advocacy efforts. The event takes place on November 9-10, 2016 in Chicago, IL. The 2017 event will be renamed Solar Power Midwest, and will again be held in Chicago, IL.

About Solar Power PV Conference & Expo – Chicago
PV Conference & Expo –Chicago is presented by SEPA® and SEIA®, whose combined efforts have created a world-class, regionally focused and vertically integrated event for installers, designers and suppliers of photovoltaic (PV) technology and services. Unlike other PV conferences, all proceeds support the expansion of the U.S. solar energy market through SEPA’s and SEIA’s year-round research and education activities, as well as SEIA’s advocacy efforts. For more information about Solar Power PV Conference & Expo – Chicago and other Solar Power Events, visit www.events.solar.

About SEPA
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational non-profit that provides a trusted platform for education, research and collaboration to help our members deploy and integrate solar, storage, demand response, and other distributed energy resources into the grid. We are proud to have over 1,000 members, representing the whole spectrum of industry stakeholders. Utilities, ISOs, large energy users, corporate and non-profits look to us to facilitate solutions for today’s challenges and to meet tomorrow’s electricity needs for the next decade and beyond. For more information, visit www.sepapower.org

About SEIA®
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association for the solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream, viable, and reliable energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. For more information, visit www.seia.org.

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