Manheim Auto is North America’s largest wholesale used vehicle auction house. It is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest private companies.

The Situation

Manheim Auto faced high energy costs at its San Antonio location. Parent company Cox found that solar was the solution to reduce their energy bills while supporting aggressive company sustainability initiatives. The local utility, CPS Energy, had a substantial cash incentive for local businesses to install solar, albeit with an incentive cap of $80,000 per customer per year. This required a balance between system size and incentive to optimize the solar return on investment (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

HOLT Renewables installed solar at the Manheim San Antonio site in 2012. As a result, the HOLT Renewables team easily collaborated with Manheim to correctly size, design, and price the second phase of the solar project. By taking a phased approach, Manheim was able to maximize the CPS rebates to offset of their solar costs.

Cox Enterprises chose HOLT Renewables to install the project because of the outstanding earlier work on the site and track record of successful installations in San Antonio. Leveraging our experience constructing on other retail facilities, we 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,  a 30 percdent 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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