Deal for dealerships? Freedom Solar’s three Boggus Auto Group projects highlight solar C&I opportunity

Freedom Solar

Texas-based Freedom Solar has contracted with Boggus Auto Group to install solar arrays at its three Rio Grande Valley dealerships — Boggus Ford-McAllen, Boggus Lincoln-McAllen and Boggus Ford-Harlingen.  

“The Boggus Auto Group has long been the leading dealer in the Rio Grande Valley and is highly respected for its professionalism, integrity and exceptional customer service,” said Freedom Solar CEO Bret Biggart. “Now, the Boggus family is setting a new standard among South Texas automotive dealerships by investing in on-site power generation. Freedom Solar is proud to partner with them in making their business more energy-efficient and sustainable.”

  • Freedom installed a solar array capable of producing 499.95 kW of on-site power at Boggus Ford- Harlingen, capable of offsetting 61% of the dealership’s energy costs.
  • The Boggus Ford-McAllen system will produce 443.52 kW, offsetting 62% of its energy costs, and
  • the 154.4 kW installation at Boggus Lincoln-McAllen will offset approximately 54% of the dealership’s energy expense.

Good deal for dealerships

As solar power becomes more affordable, businesses of all kinds are turning to it, but none more so than the automotive industry. Due to long operating hours and energy-intensive showrooms and lots, energy costs can be a dealership’s third-highest overhead operating expense, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). In addition, dealers report rising electric costs from utility companies, especially in areas already prone to brownouts and blackouts due to high power demand.

Due to these reasons, many dealerships are turning to solar energy to mitigate their high energy expenditures and ensure the reliability of their electricity supply. The dealership’s decision to switch to solar power also demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability, which is appreciated by an increasingly large segment of the public.  

Taking note of this trend, Freedom Solar specifically targets the automotive industry, reaching out to dealers across the country to advise them about the immense positive impact solar can have on their business. In 2020, Freedom hired former SunPower National Auto Industry Manager Ryan Ferrero, the previous long-time owner of a domestic and import dealership, to create profitable, sustainable solutions for its automotive dealer customers. SunPower is the highest-quality, most efficient solar panel on the market today, and Freedom Solar is the only SunPower Master Dealer in Texas.  

Boggus Auto Group Founder and Owner Bob Boggus said several factors played into the decision to move forward with the conversion to on-site power generation at its dealerships: lucrative financial local and federal incentives, the testimony of dealers in other parts of the state who have already transitioned, and the fact that each of Boggus’ three dealerships has ample roof area to accommodate solar arrays powerful enough to offset a large percentage of their energy costs. The Boggus family chose Freedom Solar as their solar contractor after a July 2021 presentation by Ryan Ferrero to the Texas Dealer Academy, a group of about 25 entrepreneurial dealers that meets several times each year.

“Ryan is a former auto dealer; he knows the business, and he clearly knows solar,” said Boggus. “We already knew Freedom Solar has a stellar reputation, and that presentation just cinched it. Ryan gave us the confidence to make a definite plan and follow through.”

With the powerful incentives available to new solar users, going solar presents no downside for auto dealers. The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) has been a major factor in many of Freedom’s customers’ decisions to go solar since 2020. As part of a broad effort to make solar energy an attractive alternative to traditional electric power, Congress has extended the 26% solar tax credit through 2022; by 2023, it will drop to 22%.  

Many of the dealerships Freedom has worked with are early movers of electric vehicles, and that is certainly true of Boggus Auto Group, which is bullish about EV technology and Ford’s embracing it. They view solar as part of their EV infrastructure and have transitioned to a new paradigm in which it no longer makes sense to get all their electricity from the grid — especially when charging their inventories of new electric Fords like the Mustang MACH E and the 2022 F-150 Lightning. On-site power generation puts dealerships’ expansive rooftops to work for them.

“Bob Boggus is preparing for the future,” said Biggart. “He’s an entrepreneur who understands the move to solar is inevitable for franchise dealerships, and his timing of these installations is impeccable. The automotive industry is now supercharging its move toward electric vehicles, Ford is a lead investor, and Bob is paving the way in South Texas.”

“Installing solar has become a cost-reduction strategy for entrepreneurial automotive dealers and is growing rapidly amongst dealerships nationwide,” said Freedom Solar Automotive Manager Ryan Ferrero. “In the time it takes you to enjoy a cup of coffee, we can show you how solar can both save on overhead and actually make you money, today and into the future, as well as provide elastic savings that combat seasonal energy cost fluctuations and satisfy emerging EV charging needs.”

Ryan Ferrero will conduct an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Workshop at the 2022 NADA Convention in Las Vegas on Friday, March 11, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., in Room W230. In the workshop — designed for dealer principals, general managers, CPAs and facilities managers — Ferrero will demystify solar and explain how dealerships are turning EV charging and their rooftops into income-generating assets and moving electricity from a fixed to a variable expense.

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