Wisconsin’s Arch Electric (No. 189 on the 2019 Top Solar Contractors list) primarily worked on residential and small-scale commercial projects throughout the state, but things quickly changed for the contractor after it completed the 1.63-MW rooftop project on the new IKEA store in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The IKEA project was the largest commercial rooftop installation in Wisconsin (until SunVest installed 1.85 MW at Madison Area Technical College a few months later), let alone the largest install for the solar contractor — until then, Arch Electric’s largest installation topped out around 375 kW. Project developer REC Solar, which has been the lead solar developer on the majority of IKEA’s 50+ U.S. locations, seeks to use local contractors on each project. Arch Electric was the lucky winner to take on the 4,716-panel project for the first IKEA store in Wisconsin.
While the store officially opened in May 2018, Arch Electric did most of the installation throughout the harsh winter months. Cornell said the roof was often very icy, and maneuvering around obstacles was a challenge.
“We had about 60,000 ballast blocks. We would lift a pallet up over the roof, and guys would put them on wagons,” he said. “Sometimes they’d be lifting over a gas pipe over ice. It was a skating rink.”
There were other adjustments Arch Electric crews had to get used to on a larger project too, including daily sign-ins and safety requirements when working on an under-construction building project. The IKEA store roof is also split in two, so hoisting components onto two separate roofs added more steps. But Cornell said his team made sure to keep a high level of precision throughout the process.
“There were 61,776 torque points. Every bolt had to get torqued and painted red,” he said. “This was one of six IKEA [solar] jobs in 2018, and we were recognized by REC Solar as having the best quality and safety of all the jobs.”
That level of quality is sure to follow Arch Electric as it takes on even bigger jobs this year.
This story was featured exclusively in our 2019 Top Solar Contractors issue. See the issue and full list of top U.S. solar installers here.