Independent Power recently completed a 438.9 kW commercial solar power array on the roof of Weld County Garage Buick GMC in Greeley, Colorado. The new and used car dealer joins the growing trend of auto dealerships making the switch to solar energy to help save on electricity costs in a reliable and effective way.
In 1908, Weld County Garage became the first Buick dealership west of the Mississippi River and was brought into the General Motors’ (GM) family of dealerships shortly thereafter when the holding company was founded in September of that year. Today, just over 110 years later, Weld County Garage Buick GMC has grown to become one of the largest Buick and GMC dealerships in the nation with over 300 employees and five locations to serve the automotive needs of our Northern Colorado Communities.
“With an institution as storied as [Weld County Garage], we are always looking for ways to stay relevant in our community and improve our operational efficiency,” says Grant Nisly, General Sales Manager at Weld County Garage. “One of my roles is to drive high ROI projects that offer long-term benefits to the ownership group and solar just made good business sense. Right now we’re sitting at about 80% offset for our electricity needs and have been able to drive down peak demand by over 20%. Though I personally have a passion for efficiency, the decision to go solar wasn’t environmental. It was purely financial.”
“We’re having more and more conversations with auto dealers—the majority of which are locally owned and operated—who are looking to free up operating capital, reduce operational costs, and increase their sales as a result of demonstrated environmental leadership,” said Maya Resnick, Commercial Solar & Storage Consultant at Independent Power . “What we see is that auto dealers are long-term holders where dealerships are considering long-term strategies. This is where solar pencils best. Additionally, auto customers are tending to look at more electric cars and solar could potentially become even more valuable to dealerships as their electricity demand increases with this trend. Our partnership with SunPower has been a tremendous opportunity to engage with the dealership community and offer simple, high-quality solutions to help long-time Colorado institutions continue to thrive decade after decade or century after century in Weld County’s case.”
Weld County Garage’s solar power system includes 1,291 SunPower® Performance Series 340 watt, high-efficiency modules expected to generate an annual production of 650,295 kWh. The system is projected to offset approximately 1,013,811 lbs of CO2 each year and save over $1.7 million in energy savings over 25 years.
“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, CEO of Ignyte Lab which partnered with Independent Power on a similar auto dealership solar project. “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.”
“ONE OF MY ROLES IS TO DRIVE HIGH ROI PROJECTS THAT OFFER LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO THE OWNERSHIP GROUP AND SOLAR JUST MADE GOOD BUSINESS SENSE. RIGHT NOW, WE’RE SITTING AT ABOUT 80 PERCENT OFFSET FOR OUR ELECTRICITY NEEDS AND HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DRIVE DOWN PEAK DEMAND BY OVER 20 PERCENT. THOUGH I PERSONALLY HAVE A PASSION FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY, THE DECISION TO GO SOLAR WAS PURELY FINANCIAL IN THIS CASE.”