DALLAS — The largest multifamily solar panel installation project in the nation to date is being completed at 16 apartment communities across Dallas and Tarrant counties. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Solar Company in Dallas is installing the 15-megawatt, 40,000-panel systems at 16 properties

  • This will be the largest multifamily solar panel installation project in the nation

  • This project will provide tenants a shield against fluctuating costs of electricity

Roof panels and solar carports are going up in part to provide a much-needed boost to energy production in Texas.

The Solar Company in Dallas was enlisted to design and install the 15-megawatt, 40,000-panel system at 16 of Granite Redevelopment Properties’ Class B and C communities.

“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 Granite Redevelopment Properties’ president, Tim Gillean.

The Solar Company is taking on installing the solar panels across 3,600 apartment units and 2,000 parking spaces (atop custom-built carports) to generate electricity and offset energy costs.

“Because these complexes use so much electric energy due to all the air conditioners and all the tenants, we are able to now put solar panels on top of carports or create carports,” said The Solar Company Head of Operations Chet Dyson. “But this is going to raise the production on the neighborhood to bring it up to that 90% to 100% offset that we’re trying to achieve per neighborhood.”

This deal will provide tenants a shield against fluctuating costs of electricity, as these communities will all be moving to “all bills paid” models. This will allow the property managers the ability to shield residents from skyrocketing energy prices, like during the February 2021 winter freeze.

“Texas is a deregulated power state, meaning every individual has to go out and source their own power and pay that person for their power. So what doing a massive system on a neighborhood like this does is it helps every tenant because every tenant is typically around 15 cents because lack of credit or lack of a deposit. But what turning it ‘all bills paid’ does is it allows you to get that lower rate because you’re locked in with a bigger group,” Dyson said. “It’s really protecting all the tenants from those rising costs of the electric.”

While The Solar Company doesn’t focus on single-family homes, Dyson suggests homeowners take advantage of the current federal tax credit for switching over. He says now is the time, and the financing of solar allows you to pay off the system over time.

“This year is the last year for the 26% federal tax credit, which is the biggest government incentive that we have for solar. And the tax depreciation is changing for the business side as well. So now is the time to pull the trigger. It’s not going to get any better than right now to pull the trigger and go solar on your residence or on your business,” Dyson said. “With the low cost of systems nowadays, the financing makes sense because we’re able to get financing locked in at a lower rate than your electric bill is now, and this is commercial or residential. So when you sit down to look at the numbers on how much you’re saving, and we finance the deal, we’re able to make it a wash on your payments so you’re able to walk into a system and see results day one.”

The Solar Company is well aware Texas is primarily an oil and gas state. Branching out to something else that has gotten the rap of being too “green” is not at the forefront for many Texans, but Dyson says it should be.

“Looking at the Texas market, it was similar to Alaska, where I’m from. It’s huge on oil. It’s not a big greeny state. But now that the price of solar has dropped, it finally makes ‘cents,’ as in money cents, to do solar in Texas. And so that’s why you’re seeing more and more solar companies and more and more projects happening in the state,” Dyson said. “Because it’s not just a green thing to do anymore. If you’re not doing solar, if you’re not putting solar on your properties, you’re falling behind the times.

There’s also some misinformation floating around that switching to solar will make you independent of the Texas power grid. You need to remain connected for days when the panels can’t generate enough electricity.

Solar panels on Dallas apartment buildings. (Courtesy of The Solar Company)

“Just putting solar panels on your home or on your business is not going to make you reliable off the grid. You still need the grid to operate that unless you get batteries,” Dyson said.

But these hot summer days (and the freezing cold nights) strain the power grid, so much so that the power grid operator ERCOT is already sending notices out when generators trip offline or there’s a risk of power outages — even before summer 2022 officially hits.

“With the amount of people that are coming into Texas right now, our grid is under a lot of stress. And putting solar on your property, what that does is that loosens that brownout area for that region. So if you come in and you put solar on, you’re able to produce power — like putting a small electrical plant in that part of the town,” Dyson said.

And of course, any way to create less stress on the power grid can be beneficial to all Texans.