San Antonio Business Journal: “Freedom Solar CEO predicts ‘big spike’ in New Braunfels’ solar market”

Originally published in San Antonio Business Journal. Written By Zoe Gottlieb.

New Braunfels’ solar market is poised to see a “big spike” in installations following the introduction of a new program, one solar company leader predicts.

Austin and San Antonio are, hands down, the largest markets in Texas for solar, says Bret
Biggart
, CEO of Austin-based solar installer Freedom Solar Power. New Braunfels, on the
other hand, is what Biggart would call a “sleepy” market: a market in which relatively
few installations take place compared to other, hotter solar markets.

All that could change with the introduction of New Braunfels Utilities’ new Participating
Solar Contractor Program, says Biggart. The program, designed to help more customers
qualify for solar rebates, aims to “revolutionize the way individuals and businesses
harness the power of solar energy in our region,” NBU wrote in a March 1 press release.

Biggart said he believes NBU’s new program could rapidly accelerate solar adoption in
New Braunfels. “These things … start to really move the needle,” Biggart said. “We saw it happen in these other markets, and I expect the same thing to happen in New Braunfels.”

Since 2016, NBU has offered a rebate up to $3,000 to its customers to incentivize the
installation of rooftop solar systems within the NBU distribution system, according to a
spokesperson for the utility. But in order to qualify, customers had to meet stringent
requirements to ensure maximum system efficiency.

With the introduction of a two-tiered rebate system, customers with less efficient solar
systems may qualify for a rebate up to $1,000. The program also provides dedicated staff,
resources and a list of NBU-qualified solar contractors to support customers considering
solar adoption.

In its 17-year history, Freedom Solar has completed 125 solar projects in New Braunfels.
Since the program went into effect, Biggart says he has seen “almost 2,000 leads” come
from New Braunfels.

As far as what’s driving the adoption, Biggart says extreme weather events such as
Winter Storm Uri have ushered in a new mentality among homeowners.

“All those weather, kind of climate-related threats that are out there today, the
population is hearing that and (saying), ‘Hey, we want a way to feel like we have some
protection if the grid goes down,’ and that’s driving a bunch of this adoption,” Biggart
said.

Today, 1,036 homes in New Braunfels have solar rooftops. If the program takes off, New
Braunfels could represent 10% of Freedom Solar’s residential market – a $300 million
top-line business in terms of revenue per year, Biggart told the Business Journal.

“The biggest markets are still Austin and San Antonio, but we consider ourselves to be a
Texas company, locally operated here,” he said. “At the end of the day, everybody in
Texas that we can service is what we want to do.”

Photo Credit: Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce