With their large roof lines, auto dealerships are the perfect fit for solar power, the chief executive of Carter Myers Automotive said recently.
The Virginia automobile group, which runs 13 dealerships in Charlottesville, Stanton and Richmond, has announced it has begun construction on a solar-powered structure above one of its dealerships.
Colonial Nissan, on Route 29 in Charlottesville, will have a roof consisting of 480 solar panels, which will produce more than 214 kWh of power annually, or 93 percent of the electricity needed to power the dealership.
The company is working with Sun Tribe Energy, a solar energy company based in Charlottesville.
"We are looking at where the industry is going, with electricity and alternative energy, ... to give back and make an impact on the environment," Liza Borches, president and chief executive of Carter Myers, told Mega Dealer News.
She added that auto dealers are perfect for introducing solar as the properties often have large roof lines.
"It is a great fit for solar energy," Borches said.
Borches explained that Sun Tribe has to build a separate structure on top of the premises to hold the solar panels.
"In the long term, we are going to save money," Borches said, adding that it could be 10 years before it pays for itself and the company starts to save that money.
"It is a long-term investment, but it is the right thing to do for the environment," she said.
It is also a good fit because the dealership is one of the largest in the region selling Nissan's all-electric cars.
Electric is still a small piece of the market, Borches explained, but in central Virginia, including Charlottesville, there is a higher percentage share than most other parts of the country.
The company is mulling whether to introduce solar panels at its other locations.