Major Solar Canopy Project A ‘Win-Win-Win’ For Texas Car Dealership


Texas car dealership El Dorado Chevrolet / El Dorado Mazda of McKinney has announced a new solar partnership with Dallas-based Sunfinity Renewable Energy and The Ratliff Group, a Coppell, Texas-based provider of construction management services for automotive clients.

The car dealership is adding a new solar system will turn make its location net-zero energy – i.e., the total amount of renewable energy created on-site will exceed the energy used by the buildings on an annual basis.

The system features 37 car canopies with 3,456 solar panels, which will produce more electricity than is used on the entire 28-acre campus. The excess energy not used on-site will be exported to the state’s power grid, generating electricity credits for El Dorado. The system is estimated to offset more than 45 million kWh of electricity over a 30-year life, expected to save El Dorado more than $4 million in electricity expenses, which can be reinvested into the business.

“While this net metering concept is law in some other states, it isn’t mandated in Texas,” says John Billingsley, chairman and CEO of Sunfinity. “However, our commercial and industrial team has identified ways to, in effect, create net metering-like cash flows for a business.”

“Our commitment to solar canopies is our biggest environmental initiative to date,” says Stanley Graff, owner of El Dorado Chevrolet. “Sunfinity was able to show us how to benefit the environment and our bottom line all at the same time, and that’s an unbeatable combination.”

Other environmentally oriented programs at the location include landscape design using plants with low-water requirements, along with a recycling program to cut solid waste disposal by at least 35%.

“This type of project is a win-win-win,” continues Billingsley. “El Dorado receives a lower utility budget certainty for decades, which enables them to dedicate those dollars to other business-building initiatives. The project helps the Texas grid by supplying power when it’s most needed. And the community benefits environmentally because El Dorado will be offsetting a significant amount of CO2 – equivalent to replacing over 35 million pounds of coal burned.”

“We have been looking for a solution to the rising insurance premiums due to hail damage for our automotive clients for several years and have been impressed with the Sunfinity solar solution to car protection and electricity generation in one clean package,” adds Bennett Ratliff, president of The Ratliff Group. “We believe this is a solution that delivers incredible value for El Dorado Chevrolet / Mazda and will be a model for the industry.”

In addition to generating over 1 MW of clean energy, the Sunfinity-designed canopies will protect one of the largest automotive inventories in the North Texas region from weather damage and provide a shaded environment for customers to shop. (El Dorado has up to 1,600 vehicles in inventory.) The Ratliff Group will begin construction later this quarter.

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