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Our 10 Favorite Solar Installations of 2017

This is the season for reflection, gratitude, new beginnings, and of course making lists! As we look back on the past year, we thought it would be fun to highlight our team’s ten favorite Freedom Solar installations over the past twelve months. We are proud of every project and the positive impact each has on our customers’ electricity bills and on the environment, but a few projects stood out.

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1. Haiti Orphanage

The Freedom Solar team partnered with ABC Home and Commercial to provide an off-grid solar solution for A Child’s Hope, an orphanage in La Montagne, Haiti. This 20-kilowatt (kW) solar plus battery backup system now provides a sustainable source of electricity that will meet 100 percent of the organization’s energy needs, enabling them to better serve and nurture the 300 lost and abandoned children who live there.

This effort was made possible because of a donation of solar panels from the SunPower Foundation and thanks to generous support from CED Greentech Texas, The PowerStore Inc., and Schneider Electric. Learn more about the project and check back soon for a first-person account of the trip from one of our teammates.

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2. Mission Park

The largest and oldest privately-owned funeral company in San Antonio, Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries chose Freedom Solar to install more than 520 kW of solar power on seven locations for environmental and financial reasons. The combined systems will produce enough clean power to cover more than half of their electricity usage, and will avoid as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as the amount of carbon sequestered by 644 acres of U.S. forest.

Read more in this San Antonio Business Journal article (or, if you’re not a subscriber, in our news release about the project).

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3. Sustainability in Spicewood

When a custom homebuilder designs his own house, it should reflect the style, workmanship, and quality of his company. A local builder’s modern new home in Spicewood includes a water collection system, high-efficiency upgrades, and now a 10.8 kW solar array. The modern appearance and high performance of the SunPower panels are a perfect fit with the rest of the home. The system is expected to cover more than 80 percent of the family’s annual electricity usage and to generate more than $100,000 in savings over 25 years, and the system was made more affordable by a Green Mountain Energy rebate that is available in competitive Texas electricity markets.

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4. Solar-Powered Pizza

Pizza Foundation has been Marfa's favorite pizza joint since 2003, and their pies have gotten love from Texas Monthly, Every Day with Rachel Ray, and Vogue. Their new building features a rooftop array of 54 SunPower modules that is expected to offset 75 percent of the company’s electricity usage. The 19.4 kW system will avoid the amount of CO2 emissions created by burning 26,600 pounds of coal.

The next time you're in the area, do yourself a favor and stop by for a taste of the best East Coast-style, hand-tossed pizza in West Texas.

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5. Off-Grid in Matagorda

On a remote and stunningly beautiful beachfront property along the Texas coastline, our crew installed a 2.8 kW off-grid rooftop solar PV system with a Tesla Powerwall this spring. Without roadway access, the installation materials had to be ferried across the water on a barge. That made the project more challenging than usual as the team had to ferry materials over on a barge, but no one could complain about the views. The home was right in the path of Hurricane Harvey, but the system withstood the storm and kept the power on. Learn more about backup power.

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6. Lake Shore Baptist Church

The first church in Waco to use solar power is proud to lead by example. The Lake Shore Baptist Church congregation came together to install a 47.6 kW solar array this summer with Freedom Solar's help, along with completing energy efficiency upgrades. Church officials embrace their role as environmental stewards and are excited about the opportunity to use their electricity savings to better serve their community. This Waco Tribune-Herald article has more details.

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7. Hill Country Ground Mount

A west Austin homeowner was so pleased with the solar solution installed on his property two years ago that in 2017 he commissioned an additional system. The new ground-mounted array adjacent to his home includes 180 SunPower X-series modules, adding 92.3 kW of incremental solar capacity. The system will save hundreds of thousands of dollars over its lifetime.

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8. Guido

This one-of-a-kind project at family-owned Guido & Companies Inc. uses solar panels to spell out GUIDO on the building’s rooftop, which is visible to airline passengers flying in and out of San Antonio International Airport. This solar "billboard" will meet 60% of the building's energy needs and pay for itself in less than 4.6 years while doubling as creative aerial advertising for the construction company. Maximizing production and accommodating the roof’s tilt required two separate arrays on the main rooftop plus a third array on the other side of the building. Learn more at San Antonio Business Journal or our press release, and keep an eye out the next time you’re flying in or out of San Antonio!

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9. Solar Like a Pro

The senior technical editor of SolarPro, David Brearley, chose Freedom Solar to install 12 SunPower 345 modules (complete with a critter guard!) on his new-build East Austin alley flat. The 4.1 kW system, commissioned in April 2017, will generate enough clean energy each year to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from driving 12,000 miles. Read more about David’s experience on the SolarPro website.

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10. University Research Campus Carport

The University of Texas at Austin’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus is a state-of-the-art facility for engineering and scientific research in fields ranging from aerospace to environmental health to botany. In July the campus installed an off-grid solar carport solution that provides reliable, clean energy for sensitive equipment as well as shaded parking for visitors. The 200 kW system of more than 600 SunPower E-series solar panels is connected to a High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) power distribution system, operating on a 380V DC distribution system. The HVDC system provides power to a 400TF HP Apollo 8000 supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), which sits on-site. As an added benefit, the solar panels provide covered parking for approximately 60 parking spots.