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Solar Energy News

What's happening around the world in the solar industry and how it might affect you

Spire Solar recently won a contract with Federal Prison Industries (FPI) to install photovoltaic module systems for UNICOR, FPI’s inmate employment division. The contract is on an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) basis for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) work on systems for UNICOR.

Spire Solar has also sold UNICOR solar-module production lots for use in prisons employing and training inmates for gainful work once returning to society.

“We have sold UNICOR photovoltaic production lines for two facilities that we’ve announced: one in New York, and one in Oregon,” said Executive Vice President and General Manager of Spire Solar Steve Hogan. “[Inmates] are going to be producing the panels there. And then, as part of our system’s business, we have an IDIQ contract, in which UNICOR can call on us to do new systems installations for them, using their panels.”

The prisons would make the panels, and Spire would purchase and install them in other projects.

“We are the only ones that have done this for UNICOR so far,” said Hogan.

But Spire Solar doesn’t have a say in who UNICOR can sell its panels to.

“UNICOR has multiple vendors that will do the systems installation for them using their panels, so we have no contract to buy the modules, nor is there any arrangement in either direction for amounts of procurement,” he said. “If we have a government job that we are doing a photovoltaic system on, then we could potentially use their modules for that, or if they get a system installation job, then they could have us do the installation for them.”

So then what is the contract with UNICOR for, exactly?

“The contract is for systems installations only, using their modules,” Hogan explains. “Let’s say UNICOR goes to the Department of Defense (DOD), and they get a contract with them to install, at an army base, a ten megawatt system using their panels; the contract with us is to do the EPC work for [those projects].”

Image courtesy of NREL.