Historic New Orleans opera house goes solar


A building steeped in history adds another chapter. The Marigny Opera House in New Orleans, La., also known as the Church of the Arts, has activated its new 32.56 kW solar array.  

Developed by residential and commercial installer Solar Alternatives, the array is comprised of 88 panels across two southeast-facing rooftop seam metal planes. 

A spokesperson for Solar Alternatives told pv magazine USA the developer selected Silfab 370 W solar modules for the installation. The system also includes Enphase IQ8A microinverters, combined in an AC combiner panel. The panels were mounted on a Unirac Solar mount and attached to the roof using S-5! Clamp style attachments, the spokesperson said.

The opera house organization is expected to save $6,200 on utility bills in its first year, leading to more than $257,000 in estimated savings across the 30-year lifetime of the project.

Opened in 1853, the Marigny Opera House began as a Catholic parish church before it was closed in 1997. In 2012, the building underwent a revival, reopening a performance venue for dance, theatre, opera, jazz, classical music, and special events. These performances will now be powered by local, clean energy.

“As a community arts venue and institution, we aim to operate responsibly and sustainably. This solar array will allow the Opera House to save money, become more self-reliant, and set an example in the fight against the climate crisis,” said Evan Hammond, General Manager. “This is the largest step, among some other operational changes, towards the ultimate goal of net-zero operation.”

The opera house is located in a historic district within New Orleans and was therefore subject to extra restrictions and permitting requirements managed by the city’s historic district and landmarks commission.

Solar Alternatives were required to minimize the visibility of the rooftop array from the street and keep the array in continuous rectangular shape. After submitting additional architectural drawings of the design, the project was approved by the historic district commission. 

“The Opera House is a great example of how preservation and clean energy can be compatible and also enhance the financial security of our most valued arts communities. Marigny Opera House has shown its leadership on climate change, renewable energy, and sustainability with this groundbreaking investment,” said Solar Alternatives, Jeffrey Cantin.

Solar Alternatives is a solar power and microgrid design-build firm in the Gulf Coast region. Founded in 2008, the company serves Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

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