Historic B&B uses land preservation tax credits to go solar

Oak Grove Plantation, a bed & breakfast just outside South Boston in Halifax County, works hard to minimize its environmental footprint. Some of the steps it has taken include recycling, composting, installing energy-efficient storm windows, offering optional linen service, drying laundry on clotheslines, collecting rainwater with rain barrels, and using compact fluorescent lighting.

The inn even offers motorists who arrive in hybrid vehicles a third night free.

In 2010 the owner, Mary Pickett Craddock, whose family has owned Oak Grove since 1820, decided to permanently protect the 390-acre property by donating a conservation easement to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Now, using proceeds from the sale of tax credits she received from the donation, she has installed a 3.9-kilowatt solar array that will power the inn with sunlight.

Craddock hopes the decision will not only help to keep Virginia’s environment clean by utilizing clean, renewable energy, but also will save her money and attract environmentally conscious guests.

“Our guests will be able to sip lemonade on the front porch as my ancestors once did, then tour the 25 by 10 feet lineup of solar panels in the back field,” she says. “I want to encourage guests to install solar power, too.”

“Solar is a perfect fit for Oak Grove, and this system will go a long ways towards helping them reach their sustainability goals,” adds Evan Bickerstaff of Southern Energy Management, which installed the system. “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.”

See photos and video of the installation at http://oakgroveplantation.com/going-solar/.

Jason McGarvey is VOF's communications and outreach manager. He is based in the Richmond office.