PSE&G pole-top solar power initiative wins POWERGRID International honors

POWERGRID International magazine has named Public Service Electric and Gas Co.'s (PSE&G) innovative pole attached solar initiative as project of the year in the renewable grid integration category of their annual award program. The announcement was made during a recent awards gala held at the DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Diego, California.

The pole attached solar power initiative is a major part of PSE&G's 125 MW-dc Solar 4 All program. By using specially designed solar units and more than 174,000 utility poles, PSE&G was able to install 40 MW-dc of solar capacity in New Jersey and save more than 170 acres of open space.

"By using the vertical space on utility poles, PSE&G has installed enough solar capacity to power about 6,500 homes a year," said Joe Forline, vice president – customer solutions, PSE&G. "The pole attached solar project also helped New Jersey reach its renewable energy goals, created jobs and saved open space, so it is a great honor for POWERGRID International magazine to recognize our efforts with this award."

The pole attached solar units are comprised of a solar panel, micro-inverter and communication module mounted on a patented racking system. A two-person crew installs the solar units, which connect directly into the PSE&G power grid that serves homes and business.

The pole-attached initiative also includes a communications system that monitors the performance of each unit using a self-correcting mesh network. PSE&G uses this system data for reporting energy production and for identifying under-performing units requiring maintenance.

"This year we considered many innovative renewable integration projects for the POWERGRID International Project of the Year, but PSE&G's pole-top solar project combined creativity and common sense in a way we haven't seen before," said Teresa Hansen, the magazine's editor in chief and DistribuTECH chairwoman. "This is a project that utilities across the nation will look to as a model."

PSE&G collaborated with Petra Solar of South Plainfield, NJ who designed, patented and manufactured the solar units to refine the design to meet stringent safety requirement. Riggs Distler of Cherry Hill, NJ performed the installations using IBEW lineman and URS Corporation of Princeton, NJ provided engineering consulting and project management services.

Solar 4 All is a 125 MW-dc program that utilizes rooftops, parking lots, solar farms, utility poles and landfills/brownfields for large-scale, grid-connected solar projects. In addition to the pole-attached solar units, the Solar 4 All program has 26 grid connected, centralized solar projects in service including seven solar farms built on reclaimed landfills and brownfields. There are more than 101 MW-dc of solar capacity in service through the program, which is enough to power more than 16,000 homes annually.

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