Solar Farm Uses Underground HDPE Conduit For Longevity, Quick Install

October 2012, Vol. 67 No. 10

"Typically when other types of conduit are used, it can turn into a very labor-intensive project," explained Radoszewski. "This is because a trench must be dug, the conduit installed and then a pull rope is blown through the conduit so that each wire can be pulled back through. Because the HDPE conduit can have the wire installed when the pipe is being extruded, it comes to the job site ready to go. This saves considerable time.

"Custom lengths can be ordered and sometimes a single reel will hold thousands of feet, which puts more conduit at the site to further expedite installation," he continued.

Total power produced by the South Burlington Solar Farm is estimated to be approximately 3 million kilowatt hours a year -- 45 percent more than the amount of electricity that could be produced by a fixed roof-top photovoltaic system of the same size. The project is owned and operated by the Chittenden County Solar Partners LLC. The value of the electricity generated by the farm has been tagged at $924,000 a year and is enough to power more than 400 homes.

While most of the installation was accomplished using cut and cover, the HDPE conduit also provided the solution to go under a heavily forested section of private property and a section of wetland.

"We directionally drilled two, 400-foot runs of five-inch diameter HDPE pipe used for the main power feed and communication cables," explained Aaryn French, project manager for Engineers Construction, Inc., Williston, VT.

French agreed having CIC was a benefit. It took his four-person crew just a month to install all the low and medium voltage conduit at an average depth of three feet. "The trenching, which was the majority of the work, went very smoothly as well. It was nice because we'd just start pulling the wire out and leave the proper length at the end and just lay it right in the ground.”

"We're seeing more and more power and fiber optic cables being put underground," Radoszewski said. "This is especially true of new housing and building construction. CIC is also very popular for installing FAA lighting for airport applications. Plus, there is a strong move today for communities to take existing overhead lines and bury them to eliminate 'wire blight' and provide safer and more secure power and telecom systems, which are also protected from severe weather."

FOR MORE INFO:
Plastics Pipe Institute, (202) 462 9607, www.plasticpipe.org
Blue Diamond Industries, (859) 224-0415, www.bdiky.com