Demystifying the Solar Project Management Process

Luke Nichols

Project managers work hard to ensure that the process of installing a solar system is as easy and seamless for clients as possible. While clients are enjoying uninterrupted business operations, project managers are behind-the-scenes coordinating the multiple parties involved and ensuring that all the safety, permitting, installation standards and client criteria are met in an orderly and timely fashion. Below, we demystify the process of solar installations by highlighting the common milestones that occur over the course of the installation.

Receipt of Permits and Interconnection Approvals

In order to ensure a smooth and timely permitting process, the project manager should reach out to staff at the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to clarify the requirements of their permitting process. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the permitting fee schedule, types of documentation, required engineered documents and special considerations for each AHJ. These factors can contribute to the overall length of time it takes for the AHJ to review your application.

Client Kickoff Meeting

The project manager will need to meet with the client’s operations team to go over equipment delivery dates, staging locations, dumpster & porta-john locations, contractor parking, security clearance and other site specific details. This meeting is critical in establishing client expectations and preparing the site for the installation.

Mobilization & Delivery of Major Equipment to Site

Procurement of material is another factor that has a major impact on the installation schedule. It is up to the project manager to coordinate with the client, the installation crew, the on-site logistical team and the manufacturer to ensure that products show up on schedule and proper equipment is on-site for receiving. The installation crew will utilize a forklift or lull to offload equipment from the numerous truck deliveries.

Installation of Modules / Completion of DC Wiring

This milestone is achieved when the racking and modules have been set in place and are wired together per the manufacturer’s standards. Each string of modules is then terminated and torqued within the solar inverters, which convert the DC power produced by modules to AC power that can be used on-site.

Interconnection / Shutdown

The project manager will oversee the interconnection of the solar array to the building’s main electrical system. This process will most often require a brief electricity shutdown. Once complete, the project manager will inform the utility that it is safe to re-energize the system. At this stage, it is important to test the building’s power to make sure there are no electrical or IT concerns when they are turned back on.

Commissioning & Testing

Before the system is considered complete, the project manager will coordinate a series of tests in order to ensure that the system is installed properly and all of its components are performing as expected. The system commissioning test results are documented and reviewed by the project manager and project engineer for any required troubleshooting items.

Final inspection

The project manager will coordinate with the AHJ to schedule a final inspection. Depending on the type of system and the AHJ’s requirements, the system may have to go through multiple inspections. Once complete, the AHJ will “sign off” on the permit, which states that the system was installed per building and electrical codes.

Permission to Operate

In order for the utility to issue permission to operate (PTO), the project manager must submit the AHJ’s approval to the utility. This official letter or agreement states that the system has been installed according to their standards and is approved for operation. Upon PTO, the system can be turned on and left fully operating.A solar installation is a complex process, but an experienced and knowledgeable project manager knows what to expect and can deftly navigate any potential obstacles. Over the past decade, PowerFlex has worked with many notable corporate clients, including Amazon, Medline and ASICS, among others. Our project managers understand the ins and outs of the installation process and have an excellent track record with clients. If you are interested in going solar, PowerFlex can provide a tailored, complimentary technical and financial analysis based on your real estate portfolio, energy usage, and available state and utility incentives. PowerFlex is agnostic to project structuring and provides a turnkey solar solution for corporate clients. You can reach us at or 888-225-0270.