Schneider Electric powers up photovoltaic solar array project at Palatine headquarters

The array will reduce electric usage at its North America headquarters facility by an estimated 2%-3% annually.



Schneider Electric unveiled largest corporate solar array installation in Illinois history. The array will reduce electric usage at its North America headquarters facility by an estimated 2%-3% annually, company officials said, as they powered up the installation on a below-freezing Dec. 10.

James Schwantz, mayor of Palatine, IL, and other local government officials and dignitaries attended the renewable project launch, among others.

Chris Curtis, CEO of Schneider Electric's Buildings and Power North America business, said the installation "showcases how the use of energy efficient and renewable solutions together play key roles in solving our energy dilemma. We hope to serve as an inspiration and resource for other businesses as the demand for sustainable energy continues to grow."

Curtis said the installation is part of Schneider Electric's commitment to help make people make the most of their energy. The photovoltaic (PV) solar project includes a special "flower" type mounting system, consisting of 232 modules with 29 pole supports, solar panels, Schneider Electric Xantrex inverter, Schneider Electric metering and monitoring equipment, and all the electric wiring needed to harness the power. The PV system has a rated output of 60.5 kW which will vary according to sun angle, time of year, and weather conditions, and is designed to withstand high winds and snow.

Amendments to zoning

During the six months of construction, Schneider Electric worked with the Village of Palatine to amend the zoning and permitting process to include solar projects. The Palatine building was identified as the best site within the company to install the system based on the rebates and incentives available in the region. The installation precedes the facility's LEED certification, which is being actively pursued for 2010.

While the project would cost others about $750,000, Schneider Electric's cost was about $550,000 (with company discount on switchgear, inverter, and related equipment). With local and federal incentives, payback is estimated at 10 years.

Panels, with a 25 year warranty, are expected to last about 40 years. Total output is 60.5 kW dc or 50.1 kW ac, depending on angle and strength of sunlight.

The inverter converts power from dc to ac and ensure optimal use. No electricity is expected to flow beyond the building, as it will provide, at most 3% of the all-electric facility's needs; Commonwealth Edison representatives were on hand to help ensure safe startup. Inverter photo was taken during construction.

Interactive touchscreen in the Schneider Electric cafeteria shows the carbon offset the project provides cumulative tally of environmental benefits, as this sample screen shows. Annual carbon offset is estimated at 89,166 lb.








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