Planning a Solar Project

​A select set of NRECA's solar tools and resources have been divided into solar project life cycle phases. These solar tools, developed through the DOE-funded SUNDA project, enable cooperatives to learn about solar PV, evaluate their options and determine whether it makes good technical and business sense for their cooperative to deploy.

Beyond the initial evaluation, the toolset enables a co-op to successfully design the system and its implementation, as well as build out the business model and processes to incorporate the solar power into the co-op's business operations.

Got Questions About Solar?

Ideation Phase

  • ​​​​Solar PV Getting Started Brochure – A brief guide for co-op boards when considering solar options
  • PV Decision Guide – A graphical representation of the primary decisions involved in planning and implementing a solar PV system.
  • PV Cost & Finance Screening Tool - This simple tool is excel-based and will calculate expected system costs, output and levelized cost-of-energy in seconds. It's a useful tool to quickly evaluate whether solar makes sense for your co-op, while still providing detailed information for further analysis.

Evaluation Phase

  • ​​​​Reference Designs - The scalable reference designs for 1MW, 500kW, and 250kW (single inverter and string inverter) systems provide a good basis for a new design or a reference to compare with EPC proposed designs.
  • PV Field Manuals - Culled from the knowledge and experience of industry experts, including co-op professionals, the Cooperative Utility PV Field Manuals offer comprehensive and detailed guidance, including best practices, checklists, templates and examples.
  • Community Solar Playbook - The Playbook provides practical step-by-step guidance for every member of the community solar project team, including the Board, CEO, the project manager, IT staff, the CFO and the communications manager.

Planning & Execution Phase

  • ​​​​Land Acquisition and Siting Challenges White Paper – This white paper highlights some land acquisition and siting pitfalls while offering guidance on this critical phase of the planning process.  The wrong piece of land, even if free, may wind up costing a lot more!
  • PV Project Manager's Quick Start Guide - A condensed version of the 3 field manuals and includes annotated checklists of all the steps from design through commissioning to help plan and track a project
  • Solar Communicator's Toolkit – Tools to develop an effective communications plan as well as market segmentation data, promotional materials templates, solar FAQs and more.​