Solar PV: A Powerful Tool in the Auto Industry

Whether auto dealers are a part of the 64% of single-store owners or the rapidly growing larger conglomerates (the 10-or-more store crowd), they are all looking for ways to stay competitive.  Installing solar PV systems on both rooftops and over-the-lot canopies are emerging as an effective way to cut overhead costs while switching to environmentally-sustainable energy sourcing.   

And no, it’s not just on the west coast.  Dealerships around the country are capitalizing on this cost-saving trend.

Some notable examples:

Luther Auto (the largest privately-owned auto group in the Midwest with 33 stores) installed solar on nearly 1/3 of their locations.  The cumulative system size is 454 kW and is estimated to save the company over $45,000 annually.

Covert Auto central Texas installed 62.8 kW on both of its Chevy and Ford dealerships, offsetting over half of their electricity use, saving the auto group $500,000 over the life of the systems.

El Dorado Chevrolet installed a sizeable solar canopy system on its 28-acre campus in Dallas, TX offsetting all of the campus’ energy needs, saving the company $4 million and preventing 35 million pounds of coal from being burned throughout the life of the system.

Fitzgerald Auto Mall Gaithersburg installed the largest auto dealer solar array east of the Mississippi at 890 kW.  The system is projected to offset 83% of the campus’ electricity needs and will save the company $5.2 million over the life of the system.  Senator Ben Cardin was there recently to talk about energy policy, pointing out that the rooftop solar canopy is an example of needed green infrastructure.  Full disclosure, we installed this one.

According to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) dealerships spend a colossal $2 billion on energy costs each year making it the third highest operating cost overall [owing to dealership lot lighting and energy-demanding showrooms].  In fact, dealerships spend 18% more on electricity than comparable office buildings. 

With advantageous incentives, especially in Maryland, the switch to solar is an attractive option.  Here are some incentives auto dealerships could take advantage of:

  • Parking Lot Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program. This is a MEA grant geared towards solar canopy installations.  Selected grantees meeting grant program requirements and restrictions will receive an award in of up to $400/kW of installed solar PV capacity, with a cap of $200,000 per project.
  • Maryland SREC- Performance-Based Incentive. This is the Solar Renewable Energy Credit – a commodity where system owning entities can sell accrued RECs into the marketplace for each 1,000 kWhs of energy produced. 
  • Federal ITC. This is a 30% tax credit on system purchases.  After 2019 (if the ITC isn’t extended) the credit will be reduced to 26%- still an attractive incentive.

With so many incentives to take advantage of and so many dollars to save in doing so, area dealers have a bright option through solar.

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