Minnesota-based Sunrise Energy Ventures develops commercial and utility-scale solar projects with a focus on community solar gardens and ground mount utility projects in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and New Mexico. Their portfolio includes 90 MW of completed projects with 100+ MW currently under development.
In 2017, the company hired Engineering Manager Meron Demissie to lead project engineering and take in-house the engineering work formally done by outside consultants. Meron tried a number of solar design software solutions before deciding upon PVCAD.
“First of all, financially, it made sense,” explains Meron. “PVCAD comes bundled with AutoCAD, which saved me from having to secure a separate AutoCAD license. But beyond that, it was also very user-friendly and easy to use. I taught myself how to use the platform with the video tutorials, and the software itself guided me through the design process.”
Meron also appreciated PVComplete’s responsive and personal technical support. “It has always been easy to get ahold of someone when I have an issue,” she says. “It’s a level of customer service you don’t find elsewhere.”
The design process she inherited from the company’s former consultants involved copying and pasting panel-sized blocks onto a site map, which was quite labor intensive and not entirely precise. With PVCAD, she’s able to define the installation area and string-size and let the software optimize the layout, making the best use of all available space and saving a lot of time.
In Illinois, for example, Sunrise was able to use PVCAD to efficiently complete 100 MW of solar garden preliminary design site plans in less than a year to participate in the state’s photovoltaic distributed generation and community solar program.
Meron says her job is also made easier when it comes to revisions. She says, “working with permitting officials, there is always a lot of back and forth. PVCAD makes it easy to incorporate changes, such as setbacks from the road, residence and other permit-related requirements, and turn around an updated revision that keeps the process moving forward.”