South Mountain Co. advances solar energy on the Vineyard

South Mountain has installed about half of the Vineyard's solar power systems. - Derrill Bazzy

Approximately 500 solar power systems are operating on Martha’s Vineyard. South Mountain Co., based in West Tisbury, has installed about 250 of those systems for the Vineyard’s residential and commercial customers, providing energy stability and reducing the Island’s reliance on traditional electricity sources, according to a press release from SunPower, a solar energy company based in California.

In a conversation with The Times, Rob Meyers, co-owner and energy services manager at South Mountain Company, said that SunPower is a solar panel manufacturer, with roughly 400 companies nationwide. South Mountain Co., a renewable energy firm that offers design and building, has been providing architectural services on the Island for more than 40 years. It buys solar panels directly from SunPower, which also provides technical training on the best practices for designing, engineering, and installing solar panels.

Founded in 1975, South Mountain Co. has integrated solar energy solutions into its design projects since the company’s inception. According to the press release, which commended South Mountain Co. for its solar progress on the Vineyard, the partnership began in 2007.

“Over time, we have the potential to make the Vineyard energy-neutral so that it’s generating as much — if not more — energy than it’s consuming,” John Abrams, founder and president of South Mountain Co., said in the press release. “While we may not know when, we know it will happen one day.”

Mr. Meyers told The Times that their projects on the Vineyard include the Island’s first solar carport systems at both Cronig’s Markets. At the Down-Island Cronig’s, they collaborated with Vineyard Power, a community-owned cooperative that focuses on sustainable energy, powering six electric-vehicle charging stations. There are three charging stations Up-Island.

The press release referred to Eliakim’s Way in Vineyard Haven as another project that SunPower provided panels for, where eight eco-friendly homes were built by South Mountain Company for moderate-income families.

There are ground-mounted solar installations at several capped landfills. Mr Meyers said the ones in Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury are part of the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC), with no affiliation to South Mountain Co.

In Aquinnah and Chilmark, SunPower and South Mountain Company collaborated with Vineyard Power, allowing Aquinnah to offset approximately 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, while Chilmark offsets roughly 60 percent.

“We commend South Mountain Co. for the innovative work they’re doing to ease electricity costs for all Martha’s Vineyard residents, including low-income families, local farmers, and grocery stores with high-efficiency solar from SunPower,” Martin DeBono, SunPower senior vice president, said in the press release. “South Mountain Co. has set a great example for communities nationwide looking to become more energy-independent while also protecting the planet by using clean electricity.”