Colorado auto dealers are being encouraged to partner with two solar energy companies — SunPower Corp. of San Jose, California, and Independent Power Systems of Boulder, Colorado — to add solar power to their facilities before the federal tax credit for businesses begins to phase out at the end of 2019. The effort is called Colorado Solar Project 2020 and is headed by Ryan Ferrero, a former Colorado Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Kia, and Mazda dealer. He also is CEO of Ignyte Lab, the parent of Independent Power Systems.
Ferrero says that saving the earth is all well and good, but saving money is even better. “We can’t just beat a drum and say this is good for the planet. We need it to be good for the wallet, too,” he tells Automotive News. Solar power could boost any dealership’s income and would be equivalent to adding two to three more cars a month to each store’s bottom line. He says that as the cost of adding solar systems has dropped in recent years, the payback on a solar investment is down to just over three years on average.
Ferrero said his pitch to dealers centers on economics. “If we make it easy and just get to the very raw facts, it’s attractive to dealers,” he said. “It’s a matter of how much more they want to know.” Ferrero hopes to present the project’s results at the 2020 National Automobile Dealers Association convention and see it spread nationwide.
After 2019, the current federal tax credit of 30% begins to decrease. By 2022, it will be down to just 10%. That should be an incentive to get dealers to act quickly, Ferrero says.
Many automobile dealerships are ideally suited for the installation of rooftop solar systems because of the way they are designed. Most of them have large flat roofs that would be perfect for mounting solar panels. In sunnier parts of the country, dealers could also install solar-powered carports for retail and service customers to shelter their cars from the sun while generating free electricity for the business. A truly creative dealership would use some of that rooftop solar energy to power charging equipment for their electric car customers.
Ferrero is right about one thing. Good intentions are fine for speeches, but pumping up a company’s bottom line is how to really get a business owner’s attention.