Austin-based Freedom Solar announced on June 1 the completion of solar installations at Frontier Bank of Texas. The Central Texas-based financial institution partnered with Freedom Solar to install commercial solar power systems on three of their Austin-area locations including Elgin, Burnet Road and Manor.
“We are excited to announce this partnership with Frontier Bank as we continue to see a trend in financial institutions going solar,” said Bret Biggart, Freedom Solar CEO. “It’s encouraging to see industries throughout Texas finding unique ways to incorporate solar into their sustainability practices and investment portfolios.”
The combined projects total have 136 kilowatts (kW) of capacity from 416 high- efficiency SunPower solar panels. The system will offset more than 50% of Frontier’s energy usage and generate almost $400,000 in lifetime savings. Frontier expects to begin seeing annual energy savings of $17,000 almost immediately.
“As Frontier Bank continues to grow, we are constantly seeking ways to demonstrate investment in the bank and our community,” said Patrick Johnson, Frontier Bank CEO. “With this project, we saw an opportunity to not only provide an impactful return on capital to our shareholders but also make strides in our sustainability practices.”
Frontier Bank is one of only two community banks in Texas that offers Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing for projects such as solar installations. C-PACE is a state policy-enabled financing mechanism that allows building owners and developers to access the capital they need to make energy related deferred maintenance upgrades in their existing buildings, cover up to 20% of the cost of new construction and make renewable energy accessible and cost-effective.
“A large deciding factor in Frontier’s decision to go solar is our ability to partner with a locally-based company,” said Senator Kirk Watson, organizer and Chairman of the Board at Frontier Bank. “Frontier’s partnership with Freedom Solar has allowed the bank to meet sustainability goals while also working with a company that reflects the values of our Central Texas community. As a certified C-PACE lender, we want our clients to know that we are as equally as invested in these sustainability measures as they are.”
In recent years, Freedom Solar has begun to see a noticeable uptick in financial institutions investing in solar for their retail branches. In large, this trend is driven by the appeal of an acceptable ROI with low risk as well as the desire to resonate with account holders.
“The interest in investing in solar energy is trending throughout the state and financial institutions are not immune to its appeal,” said Biggart. “With the increasing volatility of the energy markets, solar has become an undeniably sound, long-term investment and we are continuing to see it expand to industries across Texas.”