Manheim Auto is a business unit of Cox Enterprises. Cox is one of the nation’s largest private companies and ranked #14 on the Forbes 400. Manheim is a leading American auto auctioneer, with auction facilities around the country.

The Situation

Manheim Auto was facing high energy costs at its San Antonio location. Cox found that solar was the solution to reduce their energy bills and support aggressive company sustainability initiatives. The local utility, CPS Energy, had a substantial cash incentive for local businesses to install solar.  But the incentive cap was just $80,000 per customer, per year. This required a balance between system size and incentive to optimize the solar ROI.

Manheim also needed assurances that the roof-mount system would not violate their roof warranty or create any structural problems.  Furthermore, any solar installation had to have minimal impact on Manheim’s public auto auction activities.

The Solution

PCI Solar had experience working with Manheim installing solar at the site 2012. Because of this, members of the PCI Solar team easily collaborated with Manheim to correctly size, design, and price the second phase of solar. By taking a phased approach, Manheim was able to maximize the CPS rebate’s offset of their solar costs.

Cox Enterprises chose PCI Solar to install the project because of their outstanding earlier work on the site and track record of successful work in San Antonio.  Leveraging their experience constructing on other retail facilities, PCI Solar also limited impacts from the solar installation on Manheim’s ongoing auction activities.

The system uses 238 Phonosolar 310 watt panels and two Solectria 28kW inverters which convert the DC electricity from the panels into AC power.  Most of the system utilizes a Unirac ballasted solution that does not penetrate the facility's roof membrane. In order to maximize system size on the limited roof footprint, a small portion of the system was flush-mounted to a standing seam metal roof part of the structure.

The Success

Through this two-phase installation, Manheim Auto was able to achieve an outstanding ROI on their solar investment. They combined the utility incentive, electric bill savings,  30% Federal Investment Tax Credit, and MACRS depreciation benefit. The project also supports Cox Enterprises’ sustainability initiatives, further integrating Manheim into the fabric of Cox.

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