Dealers embrace solar energy technology with SunPower

SAN JOSE, Calif. - 

Solar technology provider SunPower is now working with dealerships across the country to put empty rooftops and parking lots to better use with cost-saving, high-efficiency solar energy systems.

In addition to producing enough energy to significantly curtail dealership's electricity costs, SunPower said systems serve a dual purpose because solar panels can also protect what’s beneath them, such as roofs or a fleet of vehicles.

"It's no surprise that an increasing number of auto customers find solar to be a reliable, effective way to reduce electric bills while freeing up operating capital and improving their environment with emission-free energy," SunPower executive vice president Nam Nguyen said in a news release. "Through relentless innovation, SunPower has created smart, simple, and cost-effective solar systems that allow businesses in any industry maximize their investment, earning more savings over time."

In Minnesota, SunPower dealer Energy Concepts sold, designed and installed 454 kilowatts of solar across 10 locations of Luther Auto Group.

The group’s combined installations are projected to generate more than $2.1 million in electricity cost savings over 25 years, according to SunPower.

"Solar just makes good business sense in today's energy environment, and has become integral to many of our facilities' energy-efficient designs," said Linda McGinty, vice president of real estate at Luther Auto. "Over the last five years, we've worked with Energy Concepts to install over 450 kilowatts of high-efficiency SunPower solar at 10 of our dealerships across Minnesota, and have seen significant energy savings as a result."

The roof top of Covert Auto's Chevrolet dealership in Hutto, Texas where SunPower solar panels have been installed. Photo courtesy of SunPower.

Covert Auto of Texas currently has 125.6 kilowatts of solar installed on the roofs of the group’s Ford and Chevy dealerships in Hutto.

SunPower said the systems are expected to yield over $500,000 in energy savings over 25 years and meet 53 percent of Covert Auto’s current electricity needs.

Additionally, in Colorado, SunPower dealer Independent Power Systems installed more than 50 kilowatts of rooftop solar at Boulder Nissan.

When combined with the dealership's recent upgrade to LED lighting, the system currently meets 20 percent of Boulder Nissan’s electricity needs. The system is expected to generate $384,000 in energy savings over 25 years, according to SunPower.

"It's inspiring to help auto dealers see a return on their solar investment in five to seven years, with some becoming cash-flow positive in as little as one month," said Ryan Ferrero, chief executive officer of Ignyte Lab which partnered with Independent Power Systems. "When we can show auto dealership owners the financial benefits of using renewable energy and adopting sustainable business practices, high-quality solar energy solutions end up selling themselves. And with more than 17,000 new car dealers across the U.S., there's a huge opportunity to help more in the industry save on electricity costs with solar."

In addition to car dealers, SunPower also works with automakers like Toyota. At the Toyota Motor North America's new headquarters in Plano, Texas, the company said it is currently working with Toyota to install an 8.79-megawatt system that is expected to be the state’s largest corporate office on-site solar installation of a non-utility company.

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