Southern Energy Mgmt Installs Solar Array at Historic Bed & Breakfast

A historic inn aims to attract environmentally conscious guests and save money, too, with the first solar photovoltaic system to generate clean electricity at a Virginia bed & breakfast.

Oak Grove SolarOak Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast is blending the old with the new, promoting both the building’s 200-year history and the modern potential of solar panels that produce sustainable energy. The inn wants to preserve its part of the state’s extraordinary legacy of beautiful landscapes and nourishing wildlife habitats. North Carolina-based Southern Energy Management designed and installed the system, which will produce enough power to account for more than half of the property’s total demand.

“Our guests will be able to sip lemonade on the front porch as my ancestors once did, then tour the 25 foot by 10 foot lineup of solar panels in the back field,” said innkeeper Pickett Craddock, whose family has always owned the former tobacco plantation. “I want to encourage guests to install solar power, too.”

The 3.9-kW solar array features 16 Bosch 245-watt modules mounted in the field behind Oak Grove’s main building. Combined with its new central heating and air conditioning system with 15 SEER heat pump, the project will allow the bed & breakfast to extend its season beyond the traditional months of May through September.

The project was financed under a unique set of circumstances that also allow Oak Grove to protect the 400 acres of forest surrounding the inn. Its owners are using a Virginia Land Conservation Incentives Act program to preserve the land in perpetuity, a move that made them eligible for tax breaks to make up for the lost property value. Oak Grove then sold the tax breaks and used the proceeds to pay for the solar array.

“Solar is a perfect fit for Oak Grove, and this system will go a long ways towards helping them reach their sustainability goals,” SEM Commercial Energy Specialist Evan Bickerstaff said. “This is the first time we’ve had a client finance their system quite like this, but we’d love to see more businesses do something similar. The idea that land preservation can go hand in hand with a solar installation is absolutely in line with our mission, and that made this project even more impressive.”

Land preservation and solar power aren’t the only things Oak Grove Plantation has done to make the property greener. The inn recycles, has a compost pile for vegetable scraps and has installed “low-e” energy-efficient storm windows on the south side. Motorists who arrive in hybrids get a third night free. Also, there is optional linen service and all the laundry on site dries on a clothesline. Rain barrels collect water, the inn has a tankless electric hot water heater, it uses compact fluorescent lighting and its owners have deliberately avoided adding a television. With the view off Oak Grove’s front porch, many people might suggest a TV would be unnecessary, anyway.

Click here to view a time lapse video of the installation.

Have you checked out our YouTube page?

We have a ton video interviews and additional content on our YouTube page. Recently we debuted Power Forward! -- a collaboration with BayWa r.e. to discuss higher level industry topics as well as best practices / trends for running a solar business today.

Our longer running side project is The Pitch -- in which we have awkward discussions with solar manufacturers and suppliers about their new technology and ideas so that you don't have to. We discuss everything from residential rail-less deck attaching and home solar financing to large-scale energy storage value stacking and utility-driven new home solar + storage microgrids.

Comments are closed here.