Ehrlich to convert dealership to solar, sell power to grid

GREELEY — Ehrlich Toyota of Greeley will use IPOWER Alliance of Lyons and L4 Construction of Greeley to retrofit the dealership’s energy system with a 368 kilowatt custom solar carport, LED retrofit, energy management system and battery backup. The result: The dealership will generate enough power for its purposes and return some to the grid.

The project will also provide protection for the auto dealer’s inventory.

Scott Ehrlich, co-owner of the dealership, originally was looking for a hail protection solution. He contacted Diane Dandeneau, CEO of IPOWER Alliance LLC, a solar development firm specializing in car dealerships, to see if a solar carport could provide protection from hail while also providing renewable energy to the dealership.  Ehrlich Toyota had experienced three hail storms over the past two years causing substantial damage to its inventory.

Solar panels are resistant to hail.  Most are tested for one-inch hail and historically has proven to survive much larger storms. Ehrlich settled on a long-span solar carport that will cover three rows of parking in the back lot, covering 138 spaces and isles.

“This project will provide many benefits to Ehrlich Toyota,” Ehrlich said. “In addition to protection from hail, they will save on plowing and cleaning off cars after snow storms, and keep vehicles cool in the summer.”

The project qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation. The combination of savings from the 5,000 kWh of solar production, Renewable Energy Credits and lighting rebates from Xcel Energy, energy savings from LEDs, and energy management software, the system will pay for itself in just a few years and will last for 30 years or more.

Dandeneau said that large utilities in Colorado have been required since 2006 when Amendment 37 passed to have renewable power energy sources. Xcel, the power supplier in Greeley, permits customers to sell back unused solar power but only up to 120 percent. She said the system will generate more power in the summer — more than 120 percent of need — and less in the winter but on average over the course of the year it is 120 percent. “The utility will pay Ehrlich for the energy it puts back on the grid,” she said.

Dandeneau has been involved with two other auto dealership projects — Boulder Nissan and Weld County Garage in Greeley — but those were not carport designs. The carports add benefits such as hail protection and shelter from the elements.

“We are very pleased to be working with Ehrlich Toyota.  They worked with us to design the ideal solution that would benefit their business in multiple ways and transition to clean renewable energy. Ehrlich Toyota had the perfect situation to implement a total energy retrofit, and we will be able to demonstrate some of the leading technologies and strategies that can save energy and money and improve resilience for car dealerships,” Dandeneau said.

Ehrlich’s project will also provide power backup in emergencies and the ability to use the power from the solar in an outage.  Normal grid-tied solar arrays shut down when the power goes out for safety purposes of the grid. This project will have special “grid forming” inverters that will allow the dealership to disconnect from the grid and run off solar and batteries.

The project will save approximately 518,393 kilowatt hours per year. This equates to approximately 474 tons of carbon dioxide per year, Dandeneau said.  This is the same amount of energy used by 86 homes.

GREELEY — Ehrlich Toyota of Greeley will use IPOWER Alliance of Lyons and L4 Construction of Greeley to retrofit the dealership’s energy system with a 368 kilowatt custom solar carport, LED retrofit, energy management system and battery backup. The result: The dealership will generate enough power for its purposes and return some to the grid.

The project will also provide protection for the auto dealer’s inventory.

Scott Ehrlich, co-owner of the dealership, originally was looking for a hail protection solution. He contacted Diane Dandeneau, CEO of IPOWER Alliance LLC, a solar development firm specializing in car dealerships, to see if a solar carport could provide protection from hail while also providing renewable energy to the dealership.  Ehrlich Toyota had experienced three hail storms over the past two years causing substantial damage to its inventory.

Solar panels are resistant to hail.  Most are tested for one-inch hail and historically has proven to survive much larger storms. Ehrlich settled on a long-span solar carport that will cover three rows of parking in the back lot, covering 138 spaces and isles.

“This project will provide many benefits to Ehrlich Toyota,” Ehrlich said. “In addition to protection from hail, they will save on plowing and cleaning off cars after snow storms, and keep vehicles cool in the summer.”

The project qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation. The combination of savings from the 5,000 kWh of solar production, Renewable Energy Credits and lighting rebates…