Under the driving rain and blustery winds, the Joseph Abboud banner blew back and rolled itself up, revealing the original sign for the building's first occupant in 1909, the Nashawena Spinning Mill.

It was as if the past was making sure it wasn't forgotten, history demanding to be remembered on a day when a new future was being written.

On this rainy day, the Joseph Abboud MFG Corp announced a sunny outlook for its power consumption going forward, with the completion of a new state-of-the-art solar power system designed by New Bedford-based Beaumont Solar.

Left to right: New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, Joseph Abboud President Anthony Sapienza; and Beaumont Solar President and CEO Phil Cavallo. Tim Weisberg/TSM Staff

"These solar panels will contribute about 70 percent of our electrical capacity," said Anthony Sapienza, president of Joseph Abboud.

The 1.3 megawatt project features 4,127 solar modules across Joseph Abboud's 272,000-square foot roof. It was a unique challenge, because the roof features 43 "sawtooth" sections. During the 1909 construction, these sawteeth were installed to provide air flow and natural lighting into the original mill.

The solar array is expected to produce approximately 1.7 megawatt hours of electricity annual. It also moves the facility from the days of a constantly billowing smokestack, when it was dependent first on coal power and then on oil, into the 21st century.

In addition to off-setting its electric utility load, Joseph Abboud will also receive Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from the Commonwealth for the next 10 years.

"It actually helps the utility companies not build fossil-burning power plants," Sapienza said. "We are very much a part of the renewable energy blueprint."

Beaumont Solar faced some unique challenges in designing the solar array for the roof of the Joseph Abboud building. Beaumont President and CEO Phil Cavallo said his team focused on a system that would be watertight but also maintain the integrity of the historic roof. The sawteeth, with their 22-degree tilt and angle that faced 180-degrees due south, created both a benefit and a challenge.

"This is a tremendous retrofit and marriage of old design and new technology, because it's optimized for solar, as bizarre as it may seem," Cavallo said.

Les Vants Aerial Photos/Courtesy Beaumont Solar

The Joseph Abboud project is one of just 27 Beaumont projects across New Bedford, including seven for the city itself. All told, Beaumont solar projects in New Bedford generate about 10 megawatts of solar electricity.