A new rooftop solar array for the Northtown Professional Plaza in Laredo, Texas, is expected to offset 43% of the building’s energy needs, saving the owners $1.25 million over the system’s lifetime. Austin, Texas-based solar installation company Freedom Solar Power says this array should pay for itself in around seven years.
Northtown Professional Plaza is a 90,000-square-foot three-story commercial office building in Laredo with suites leased by tenants working in the medical, legal, financial, and real estate fields.
The project calls for 1,008 solar panels, which are 327-watt high-efficiency modules from SunPower that have an expected life exceeding 40 years. Freedom Solar says the project also includes a visual monitoring system in the lobby that shows the energy savings in real time.
Gastroenterologist Reynaldo Godines, MD, owns the majority of the building and helps lead the Northtown Professional Building Association. He pitched the idea of adding solar to the other building association members.
The vote to install the solar array was nearly unanimous due in part to the large monthly savings the building owners would realize immediately because tenants lease the units at a flat rate that includes utilities, according to Freedom Solar.
The new solar array is designed to generate more than 471,355 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
Freedom Solar has completed numerous commercial projects in Texas, including ones for Office Depot, Whole Foods, and the University of Texas at Austin. Last December the company installed solar arrays on Alamo Candy’s office and retail shop that are expected to save the San Antonio candy-maker nearly $750,000 combined over the guaranteed 25-year lifetime of the two systems.
Solar has been taking off in the state. Designs for the East Austin District sports stadium and entertainment center call for rooftop photovoltaic panels. Architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group thinks the rooftop could help power East Austin’s electricity and economy.
“Texas was the fourth fastest growing solar state in 2017 and is expected to rise to second over the next five years,” said Freedom Solar CEO Bret Biggart. “We have no doubt that solar will continue to dominate the Texas energy market as efficiency increases and prices decrease.”
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