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Prairie Power, Inc.
Multiple locations; Shelbyville and Astoria Illinois
1.27 MW dispersed evenly (636 kW) between both sites
890 MWh annually per site
Estimated Annual Production:
Azimuth won a competitive tender process to engineer, procure, and construct two solar-PV energy systems totaling 1.3 MW for Prairie Power, Inc (PPI) and its host members: Spoon River Electric Cooperative and Shelby Electric Cooperative. PPI is an electric generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, and supplying electricity to eleven cooperatives across the state. Like many utilities, PPI is striving to develop sustainable and financially beneficial means to expand the amount of renewable energy in its generation portfolio. These two ground-mounted systems, built at the same time with multiple crews, each produce about 900 MWh of energy annually for the PPI members.
Design Rationale and System Architecture: Ground-mounted arrays using galvanized-steel, driven-pile, fixed-axis racking system for speed of installation and performance, and the planned fabric-and-ballast grade treatment. We selected compact, transformer-less string inverters to minimize losses, reduce construction cost, improve performance, and simplify maintenance.
Additional civil site work entailed installing a geotextile fabric before rocking the array field to serve as a vegetation barrier and facilitate long-term maintenance. The combination of fabric and rock allowed all weather access during construction minimizing delays in meeting the scheduled operation date.
Project Challenges: The multi-site project included simultaneous site construction under a tightly sequenced schedule. Wet weather delayed the project at the onset, but the team worked together to get the project completed before the expected commercial operation date. Close coordination with both host cooperative teams along with senior leadership at PPI assisted in effective communication and execution throughout all phases of the project.
As part of the public outreach and learning objectives for this project, we worked with the host Cooperative to construct an interactive learning center adjacent to one of the sites. The outdoor learning facility features multiple exhibits and interactive components designed to be kid-friendly for ages 5 and up, and is open daily from dawn to dusk.
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