Helical Piles Help Solar Panel Array Project in St. Thomas Stay on Schedule

LILBURN, GEORGIA — Cantsink Manufacturing, a leading general contractor specializing in the manufacture of helical piling, recently completed helical pile installations to anchor ground-mounted solar arrays that will be used to provide supplemental power to the terminals at the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Helical piles are galvanized or black steel pipe shaft assemblies that feature 3/8-inch thick steel plates of varying diameters that are pitched like a screw at the tip. When screwed into the ground, they can provide support to practically any type of foundation, including ground-mounted solar arrays.

According to Pat Hutchinson, the President of Cantsink Manufacturing, the use of helical piles instead of concrete at the C.E. King airport was the difference in the project finishing on time instead of days or even weeks late. In large solar array projects like this one, time frames are usually very tight and delays can be costly.

“We had six days in the schedule to complete this job, and some delays caused the work to fall behind schedule early on,” says Hutchinson. “But since helical piles are so fast and easy to install, we were able to make up the time and finish our part of the job on schedule. If concrete were being poured for the solar panel array foundations, it would have finished well behind schedule.”

At the C.E. King airport, 1,834 solar photovoltaic modules with an output of 245 watts each were installed for a total system output of 449kW. The modules will save the airport an estimated $15,000-$20,000 per year on electricity costs.

The design called for 262 foundations to support the SolarFlex racking system that was used at the airport. The traditional installation process would have required auguring 262 holes, finding place for the displaced soil, implanting a rebar substructure, mixing concrete, setting a pole and waiting for the concrete to cure — all before construction of the solar array could continue. Instead, the contractors — All Rounder Systems and Veterans General Contracting JV — contacted Cantsink Manufacturing about using helical piles instead of concrete, since helical piles can be installed quickly and easily without displacement of soil.

Also, concrete is not an environmentally friendly solution, given the large carbon footprint that is a byproduct of its production. “It seemed counterproductive to use environmentally unfriendly construction material in such a clean and green project,” says Hutchinson. “Also, helical piles do not require any setting or cure time after installation before they can bear a load, which was important given the tight timeframe of this job.”

The solar arrays will supplement carbon-based electrical power at the C.E. King airport. “Solar will help give the U.S. Virgin Islands Office of Energy some control over the rising cost of electricity,” says Hutchinson. “Solar energy can provide long-term cost savings, not just in St. Thomas, but in cities all over the country.”

About CANTSINK MANUFACTURING

Cantsink Manufacturing specializes in the fabrication and assembly of helical piles used in foundation repair and for supporting ground-mounted solar arrays. These are galvanized or black steel pipe shaft assemblies that feature 3/8-inch thick steel plates of varying diameters that are pitched like a screw at the tip. When screwed into the ground, helical piles can provide support to practically any type of foundation, from single- and multi-family dwellings to commercial buildings, retaining walls and solar panel arrays. They are a far superior solution for supporting solar panel arrays than other alternatives. For more information, visit www.cantsink.com or call 678-280-7453.

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