As solar construction continues to expand, many project managers are learning about common mistakes the hard way. Fortunately, many of these are avoidable via proper planning and having the right team in place.

By learning from these mistakes—hopefully before you’ve made them—you can avoid them on your next solar project.

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Common Solar Construction Project Mistakes

Clean Water Act violations have resulted in millions of dollars of fines for solar companies over the years. This is just one example of the costly consequences of not getting it right the first time with solar construction projects.

How can you avoid making mistakes like this for your solar projects? The first step is understanding what might go wrong.


1. SWPPP compliance

The US EPA requires most solar construction projects to have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that is followed and continually updated. Stormwater runoff pollutes waterways and impacts local ecosystems. An SWPPP defines strategies for preventing runoff, including erosion control systems, planting, and more.

The leveling and grading that happens for most solar farms creates conditions that could lead to erosion. Although many project managers start with good intentions and have a plan, it’s not uncommon for compliance to be an issue. Working with subcontractors who don’t have experience with SWPPP compliance can result in penalties and fines for violations.

Work with a team that understands that an SWPPP is a living document that must be updated as new information arises. Active participation from your vendors is necessary for staying in compliance and avoiding the expense of unexpected fines.


2. Violating Environmental Regulations

In addition to having an SWPPP, there might be environmental considerations specific to your site, such as preventing the transfer of invasive species, protecting endangered species, or minimizing damage to wetlands. It’s critical to have an understanding of the local regulations before you start your project so you can have a plan in place to stay compliant. Violating environmental regulations not only impacts the ecosystem, but can also result in fines, penalties, and damage to your brand.


3. Permit Violations

Construction permits are required for solar installations and each state or region has specific requirements. Common mistakes around construction permitting include:

  • Not having the right permits in place
  • Making excessive noise
  • Not restoring property to its original state
  • Not posting the required signage at the site
  • Construction that does not align with the drawings
  • Fencing and gates that do not meet permit requirements
  • Failing a site inspection


How to Avoid Solar Construction Project Mistakes

The number one strategy for avoiding these common mistakes is to have an experienced team that knows how to navigate the various permits and regulations. A good site clearing and civil contractor will:

  • Have a good understanding of the site conditions.
  • Comply with your SWPPP and local environmental regulations.
  • Propose cost-effective strategies for erosion control, drainage, and so on.
  • Supply the necessary equipment, materials, and experienced crews to perform the work.
  • Respect neighboring property owners and communities.
  • Operate safely and efficiently.

When you don’t choose your team carefully, the risks include hefty fines, project delays, unplanned costs, and potential brand damage. Investing in qualified vendors can save you headaches—and money—in the long run.


YAK ACCESS: An Experienced Land Clearing and Civil Contractor

With deep experience in site access solutions for utility and construction projects, YAK ACCESS is well poised to support renewable energy projects that share the same challenges around site preparation, environmental and regulatory compliance, and staying on schedule.

To learn more about what you should consider to avoid common mistakes, read The Complete Guide to Site Preparation for Solar Energy Projects.


The Complete Guide to Site Preparation for Solar Energy Projects