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A Hail of a Solution: Weather Damage Leads to Renewable Energy Solution



Stapp Interstate Toyota in Longmont, Colo., experienced five hailstorms in 15 months.

Their vehicles were damaged. Their insurance company was balking. Brion Stapp, dealer principal, wanted a long-term solution against the increasing frequency of dangerous hailstorms.

“Being a third generation dealer, I want to make sure I leave this place better for my kids or potentially their kids someday if they’re interested,” Stapp said.

Decades earlier, when Stapp joined the family business, he told his father: “We need to start thinking about the next 50 years. We need to reinvent.”

The hailstorms presented the perfect opportunity because they represented a new normal. Hail damage has increased significantly in recent years, according to Yale Climate Connections. Insured U.S. hail losses average $80 billion to $140 billion per decade. For comparison, a decade of U.S. property loss from tornadoes totals $14.1 billion.

Stapp Interstate Toyota became the first dealership to combine protective hail canopies with solar panels, eliminating both their weather concerns and electric bill.

With the addition of the canopies, the dealership worked with Toyota Financial Services to reduce their annual premium and their deductible on their open lot insurance program.

The showroom proudly displays a real time solar production account, where employees can explain the system to curious customers.

By the numbers:

  • The canopies cover 53,000 square feet, protecting 335 vehicles.

  • 720 bi-facial solar panels produce energy both from the top of the panel and the bottom from the reflection of the canopy.

  • The solar panels generate 375,000 kilowatt hours of solar power each year.

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