Big Texas multifamily housing solar project comes with big financial, environmental, and grid resilience benefits

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 A 15 MW solar portfolio is set to power sixteen Dallas-based Class B and Class C multifamily housing developments that house over 3,600 units. Property manager Granite Redevelopment Properties worked closely with Dallas’ own The Solar Company to develop the plan, which was acted upon due to the clear financial benefit of the project.

Chet Dyson, head of operations shared that the solar modules installed range from 400 W to 450 W and are a mix of about 2/3 Canadian Solar panels and 1/3 Znshine. The inverters used were Solis single-phase inverters, with multiple inverters around 10 kW in size stacked to meet the need of the distributed system.

“When we ran the numbers for overall project returns, we were sold and wanted to go all in. Not only is it a responsible decision from an environmental standpoint, it also makes tremendous financial sense and adds millions of dollars to the overall value of our portfolio,” said Tim Gillean, President at Granite Redevelopment Properties, LP.

Image: The Solar Company

The project is particularly beneficial to the “all bills paid” model that Class B and C multifamily housing units offer. The project cuts costs and provides price predictability for the landlord, while providing clean, local, and reliable power to the residents.

During the winter superstorm that knocked out much of the Texas grid last year, a key reason a huge spike in demand for power to heat homes that was generally unexpected by grid planners. Transmission bottlenecks and centralized power worsened the issue, which caused wholesale prices to skyrocket to the cap $9,000/MW and led to widespread outages. The problem was so bad it led to the Public Utilities Commission to lower the cap to $5,000/MW, after it was assessed the storm caused $130 billion in economic damages.

Many Texans found themselves facing electric bills in the thousands of dollars, often in low-income communities where residential energy providers are known to sell predatory packages that expose residents directly to wholesale prices.

A project like Granite Redevelopment’s 15 MW array can act as a shield to both problems. It provides local clean energy and takes stress off the grid, smoothing out the spikes of bottleneck-created price hikes. And a “all bills paid” model can allow the housing manager to offer a predictable cost of energy, rather than allowing its residents to be exposed to potential predatory energy supply companies.

The 15 MW portfolio is distributed throughout numerous units and will also comprise solar carports that cover 2,000 parking spaces, providing the dual benefit of cooling the vehicles below while producing clean energy. The 40,000-panel system is expected to be completed this July.

The Solar Company builds its solar carports in-house, from manufacture through install. “We found it was more cost-effective to build the carports ourselves, and it ensured they are made with superior craftsmanship,” said Travis Wildeman, CEO of The Solar Company in an interview with pv magazine.

The Solar Company manufactures and installs its solar carports in-house.

Wildeman’s company works with apartment buildings, hotels, car dealerships, warehouses and other commercial buildings to install cost-effective, distributed solar.

“Granite is setting a trend for owners of Class B and C apartments – and potentially the entire multifamily industry. By removing one of the biggest expenses for many landlords with rooftop solar panels and solar carports, the math is hard to argue with,” said Wildeman.

Wildeman said he sees bright days ahead for the Texas solar industry. He comes from a background of over 20 years in commercial real estate underwriting and has noticed a trend among his connections from his past career. “People are excited to talk about solar here in Texas,” he said.

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