Butler Auto Group co-presidents Morris and Marsh Butler began their foray into solar energy about three years ago, after observing the large solar farms in central Georgia. They since have installed solar panels on three dealerships — most recently at Audi South Atlanta, a Terminal with an eight-car showroom and two-car delivery bay that opened this spring — and are beginning to start their fourth installation.
“It really has been a win for us,” says Morris Butler. “We’re considering adding solar to older facilities as well.”
The Butlers have worked closely with the state of Georgia and Renewvia Energy Corporation, a leading solar development company with headquarters in Atlanta, to analyze their monthly power usage and to design systems appropriate for their needs. On a 100-kilowatt system, the Butlers have been able to cut their monthly power usage by 40 percent. Combined with state tax credits and bonus depreciation, the solar installations pay for themselves in 4.5 years. (As tax credits vary by state, the Butler’s are achieving payback in less than 4 years at a dealership in South Carolina.)
For Morris Butler, the energy savings have become an exciting passion. “I literally get an email every day showing me how much energy we saved,” he says. “It’s interesting to see the difference between winter and summer.”
He also is thrilled to share knowledge of their success. The Butlers currently are installing flat-screen TVs in the Audi South Atlanta customer area to display solar savings on a daily basis. Graphics also depict how many trees they are saving by reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, the design of the facility itself makes great use of natural daylight, and the view from the rear parking deck incorporates a grove of beautiful trees.
“It means something to folks who are environmentally conscious,” Morris says. “But it’s not like driving past the solar fields; they can’t see the solar panels on the roof. So, we have to get the message out another way. It will be a ‘wow’ factor for us.”
And, with Audi’s upcoming introduction of battery electric vehicles, the Butlers find themselves ready for the new products. “Many consumers who are interested in electric vehicles also have a passion for renewable energy and green initiatives,” says Cody Thacker, director for Audi ONE. “The solar installation at Audi South Atlanta provides tangible evidence to these consumers and the general public that Audi is focused on all aspects of an electric future and that the Audi e-tron will be a part of a much larger ecosystem benefitting both the environment and the bottom line.”
If you are a dealer considering employing solar technologies, then please reach out to your Audi Region Network Development Manager.