BEC Partners With Local Solar Manufacturer


Renewable energy sources like solar have become increasingly popular, but it’s not a one size fits all solution. What works for your neighbor may not be right for you. It’s a lesson Justin McKenzie, energy services manager with Bandera Electric Cooperative, learned quickly.

“Having solar on my own home helped me to solidify this way of thinking,” said McKenzie. “You don’t want the biggest solar system on the block. You want the most efficient system that fits your needs.”

While the cost of solar has come down over the years, McKenzie said it’s still a big investment and it’s important to customize each solar project. Franz Feuerherdt, national sales manager for Mission Solar in San Antonio, said that way of thinking isn’t as common as you might expect in the solar industry.

“There are installers and even utilities across the country that don't have the best interest of their customers,” said Feuerherdt. “BEC really stands out as one of the good ones.”

Mission Solar is one of a handful of companies that make their solar panels in the United States. Originally, they were created for the sole purpose of building solar farms for the city of San Antonio.

“The city had a stipulation that the panels be made in San Antonio, so that’s where we came in,” said Feuerherdt.

The company began selling to the residential market and more recently became the sole supplier of solar panels for BEC. A partnership McKenzie said will come with many benefits for BEC members.

“Mission solar panels are built right here in San Antonio. After walking through their factory and seeing their process, I understand the quality of the panel we’re getting,” said McKenzie. “They also give us a wide range of solar panel options to help create the most energy with the smallest footprint and the most economical investment for our members.”

Christine Buerkle with marketing and communications at Mission Solar said Mission panels are custom made to withstand the harsh Texas weather conditions. Their frames, backing material and glass are made thicker and stronger than the average panel.

“I’ve lived through Hill Country storms myself, and after investing money in solar panels on your home, you’d like to walk out and see it all still intact,” said Buerkle. “That’s what you get with our panels.”
Feuerherdt said there are several features that set his company's panels apart from others, including the thickness of the glass and the frames.

“Our glass is 3.2 millimeters thick, and the trend with major importers is around 2.8 millimeters,” said Feuerherdt. “That’s taking more than 10% of the glass strength away.”

Feuerherdt said Mission’s solar frames are 40 millimeters thick, whereas imported products are typically around 30 to 38 millimeters, and the backing material of the solar panels is thicker and stronger as well.

Sourcing the solar panels from a local company like Mission also makes it easier if problems were to arise, said McKenzie.

“If there is a problem, we have a partner that will come out and help us resolve it right here in our own backyard,” he said. “Their customer service and accessibility played a major role in our decision to partner with Mission Solar.”

The partnership will also help secure hundreds of jobs at Mission Solar while helping BEC uphold its commitment to serve its members.

“When we make a balance between energy generation and consumption, we’re making the biggest impact on grid resiliency, energy conservation and innovation,” said McKenzie.

In the last two years, more than 100 members have signed up for solar through BEC, bringing the total to more than 400 members. Solar power is one component of the Energy Saver program designed to help members save energy and reduce costs. With the Energy Saver program, members get a complete home audit, Apolloware energy analytics platform, and the ability to make energy improvements to their home with zero-down, interest-free financing. The program centers around Apolloware, which allows members to monitor their energy consumption in real time down to the appliance level.

“I love Apolloware. I think it has potential to be an industry-changing development,” said McKenzie. “I also like that it empowers homeowners to use their electricity wisely.”

To learn more about BEC’s Energy Saver program, visit BanderaElectric.Com/EnergySaver, or call 866.226.3372.

Posted Monday, March 14, 2022