With modern community amenities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, pond fountains, and a club house, the Villages of Southampton Home Owners Association recognized that the increasing cost of electricity would be an ever growing burden on its residents. To plan for the future financial prosperity of the community, the board determined that solar was the best method to not only reduce their energy costs, but also to generate income. With limited ground area available, the community elected to design and install a custom cedar wood pergola with an integrated solar array. The large pergola sits directly next to the community pool and is complimented by a small roof mounted solar array on the nearby club house. The two arrays combine for a total solar capacity of 20 kW.
The custom engineered pergola is constructed of cedar wood and supported by concrete foundations. To match the 30+ year lifespan of the solar system, cedar wood was chosen for its durability and resilience in the salt-air environment. Additionally, the aesthetics of the cedar complement the club house and resident’s homes. The solar modules are attached to the pergola structure by the low profile Unirac SunFrame mounting system. The pergola also features unique openings and hidden cabinets in order to keep the electrical wiring out of sight.
This project included the use of a progressive utility tariff known as a Community Energy Facility / Aggregated Metering interconnection. The innovative tariff allows the solar system to be installed on a new independent electrical service/meter. This method allows the solar system to operate independently of the communities many electrical services/meters and for all of the solar system’s generation to be fed to the utility grid and measured by the utility company. The energy (kWh) generated by the solar system is then simply credited to the various utility accounts of the HOA. This interconnection method provides the community with the distinct advantage of being able to install one central solar system and have it benefit the many large and small utility accounts spread throughout the neighborhood. The one-of-a-kind community owned solar system includes (82) Motech solar modules and (4) SMA Sunny Boy Inverters.