Published on November 7th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southeast Built In New Orleans

November 7th, 2012 by  

The St. Thomas Housing Project had been a somewhat rundown low-income housing project before Hurricane Katrina hit, known primarily for its high crime rate. But now, the area has become the focus of several government agencies working to revitalize it through sustainable and renewable technologies.


The new housing, named River Garden Apartments, is designed as a mixed-income development covering eight blocks and around a square mile. It’s currently the largest solar neighborhood located in the southeastern US, and the largest solar project in Louisiana, because of the 420 kW of photovoltaics installed on the roofs.

“Installing PV systems on multiple roofs, each with a specific configuration and mounting angle, posed a challenge for the company,” Kathleen Zipp of Solar Power World notes. “Turning to SolarEdge’s power optimization system allowed using maximum roof space for optimum power harvesting, even in areas with partial shading or obstructions.”

The system allows the many different arrays to be monitored in real-time by using built-in performance data gathered at the module level. The system then automatically sends web-based alerts on underperforming modules and faults to allow adjustments to be made, increasing the efficiency.

The system also uses a ‘SafeDC’ mechanism to increase its safety. “Damaged arrays could potentially start arc faults and home fires,” Zipp adds. “SolarEdge guarantees a safe installation with its inverters and power optimizers. This has special importance in hurricane-prone areas where flying debris resulting from high winds can damage solar installations.”

The residents of the development will pay $0.10/kWh for electricity, leading to roughly $50 a month saved on utility bills.

“We overcame many challenging issues, specifically installing modules on multiple roofs and different angles, in a safe manner and with reduced maintenance costs,” says Micah Galy of Pontchartrain Mechanical Co. “This revitalized community is now able to sustain itself with reliable energy and will be able to stabilize their energy costs for the long term in a clean and sustainable way.”

Image Credit: SPW Solar Edge

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • S S

    [Now, if only (top “Dirtiest Cities”) New York, Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia could get aboard the “clean up train!!!”]
    Though N.O.’s the TRAVEL+LEISURE’s #2″Dirtiest Am. City,” inside the American State Litter Scorecard’ #2″worst” government (least clean public spaces) of Louisiana, the municipality and local/state leaders making SLOW yet SURER strides in getting things cleaned up.

  • Micah Galy

    That project was a blast. I would love to do another like this.

  • It’s too bad we don’t see more of this in the states….certain industries don’t want this, and they have the lawmaking influence to slow the growth of this concept…


  • Pingback: Katrina-damaged neighborhood is rebuilt into the largest solar project in Louisiana | Grist()

  • The title should be Southeast

  • A.T. Solar Technologies

    We had a great time assisting PMC on that project!

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