Solar installations were removed from twenty-four San Diego Unified School District campuses after corrosion was discovered that threatened the possibility of electrical issues that could lead to fires.
The 4.3-megawatt installation was built in 2005-06 by Solar Integrated Technologies (SIT). SIT was acquired by Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) (PINK:ENERQ) in 2009. ECD’s Uni-Solar manufactured the panels. SIT built the integrated solar-electric systems made up of Uni-Solar PV panels and Sarnafil roofing material.
Both ECD and SIT filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
The panels were installed through a third-party ownership (TPO) financing agreement in which the school district made no upfront investment. SIT had responsibility for operations and maintenance. GE Financial Services (NYSE: GE) was the twenty-year lessor.
Due to the other parties’ bankruptcies, GE Financial Services took on the removal of the solar systems, at its own cost, though it had no legal obligation to do so. The only loss to the school district was the promised electricity bill savings.
It has been reported that a manufacturing defect in the panels allowed water seepage, corrosion and the potential for fire-inducing short circuits. “Workers have not yet reached a final conclusion as to the exact cause of the problem, and it would not be prudent to speculate,” GE spokesperson Christa Bowers told GTM.