Austin-based Freedom Solar just had its most profitable year since founding in 2007 — in what looks to be a great year for U.S. solar in general. Also, Willie Nelson is involved as a spokesperson.
Texas is the No. 4 state in solar rankings, according to SEIA, driven heavily by the utility segment, while the U.S. residential solar market hit record highs in the third quarter of 2019 with 712 MW installed.
What that’s meant for Freedom Solar is a 75% growth in revenue to nearly $50 million in 2019 — completing 1,288 commercial and residential installations for a total of 13.7 MW of solar power, up from 8 MW in 2018. Since its 2007 founding, Freedom has installed more than 67 MW of mostly SunPower solar panels.
Zombie apocalypse or secession
pv magazine interviewed Kyle Frazier, the chief revenue officer at Freedom Solar. Frazier said Texas is “a complicated market with 15 munis and 100 co-ops” and “it’s a big territory to cover.”
“Texas is growing — even though it’s been slower going because the economics are not terribly compelling.”
The company has 180 employees. Frazier said, “It’s a service business and a big part of success is the right people.” He spoke of a great week now being 100 kW of solar installed, whereas that used to be a great month — and that’s due to the right people in place.
Frazier thinks customers in the territory are more educated and aware about solar and, combined with tax credits, he’s found the company’s top of the funnel leads have gone up dramatically
The energy storage attach-rate is low at 5-10%, said Frazier, adding that it was “still a rich man’s game, you’d never get payback for a battery unless your considerations are the zombie apocalypse or secession.”
Did we mention Willie Nelson? Or Guido?
Residential sales increased by 94% in 2019 at Freedom. San Antonio and Austin have historically been the largest solar markets in Texas, due to rebates offered by the municipally owned utilities. As the price of installing solar continues to fall, there is growing interest in solar in the deregulated areas where 85% of the state’s population lives, including Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Almost half of Freedom Solar’s 2019 residential sales came from the Austin market.
Looking ahead, Freedom projects continued growth in 2020 of more than 80%. The company expects to add more than 400 new projects during the first quarter alone. Freedom added 82 new employees in 2019 and anticipates adding 89 more employees by the end of the year.
Freedom has seen a growing trend toward solar among Texas automobile dealerships. Freedom Solar’s corporate clients including Whole Foods, Office Depot, Lake Flato Architects, The University of Texas and, of course, Guido & Companies.
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