Commercial Solar Panel Installation Leads To Workmanship Dispute


Solar Panel ExpertThis case involves the unpaid construction of a solar panel facility in Washington state. The facility and its solar panel modules experienced damage due to a snowstorm several months after the construction of the commercial utility project began. After the facility was repaired, the facility elected not to pay the construction company in full due to alleged construction and workmanship issues. The construction company then sued the facility for lack of payment and the owner of the facility countersued regarding alleged workmanship issues. An expert in solar panels installation and tracker systems was sought to comment on the process, including transportation, delivery, handling, and installation.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your experience with installing solar modules and tracker systems for commercial utility projects.
  • 2. What is your experience in quality assurance or quality control on a large commercial site?
  • 3. What materials would you need to determine potential issues with workmanship and to estimate costs for repairs?

Expert Witness Response E-266989

Every tracker (manufacturer and version of product) has its own particulars, and it would require some industry research to determine the reasonable causes for whatever workmanship failures are alleged. My company maintains a roughly 40MW tracker and we have extensive in construction, construction management, estimating, maintenance and quality control of commercial and <30MW utility PV projects. We currently maintain and operate approximately 80MW of projects in one state. In order to estimate the cost of repairs I would require the specific equipment used and associated specs/manuals, pictures, a site visit, engineering drawings, the EPC contract, field reports, special inspections and the QC plan/logs. I have previously testified in a 3MW commercial rooftop case regarding a claim of wrongful termination of a GC for breach of contract on the basis of systemic workmanship, failure to properly manage critical path scheduling, and design change impacts.

Expert Witness Response E-290499

I was involved with the back-end of a Fortune 200 electric services company’s projects with a solar panel and module manufacturer, which were 500 and 550 MW each. I was the senior director in charge of managing the installation of the manufacturer’s project as well as other solar thermal projects. I also had the support of a construction manager on those sites. QA and QC were functions under me, which I supervised. I had QA/QC managers and construction managers who watched for those details and brought me in when there were any issues. On large scale projects like this, you have different roles to complete the cost estimation function.  As a project manager, I could work with a cost estimator or QC manager in order to estimate the costs, as those are the people who estimate costs on a project of this scale. I’ve reviewed internal cases like this, such as determining the extent of damage from a natural event such as a hailstorm/etc., the portion of those damages to be covered by insurance, and how much of the potential damage was due to workmanship.

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