Changing gears towards a better energy future

AGL has been providing cost-effective, renewable energy solutions for a while now, so when the Alto Group approached us to help out, we immediately swung into action.

10 min read
After looking to reduce energy costs and become a more sustainable business, Sydney automotive company the Alto Group turned to AGL for solar powered solutions.

How do you cut energy costs when you run a business that relies on brightly lit showrooms and powerful electrical equipment running all day, every day? That was the question facing Sydney-based automotive company the Alto Group two years ago, who have 13 dealerships across Sydney and regional New South Wales. No mean feat for an industry that’s famous for having their outlets lit up like Christmas trees all year ’round.

The family-owned and run business – who have been operating for over 60 years, employ more than 600 staff and sell upwards of 12,000 vehicles a year – pride themselves on their world-class showrooms and state-of-the-art service centres. They are constantly renewing and upgrading their facilities to provide the best possible experience for their customers.

“Car dealerships are very energy hungry,” says Alto Group Managing Director Anthony Altomonte. “We’ve got bright showroom lights, air-conditioning running to keep them comfortable, and our workshops operate from Monday to Friday."

However, the Alto Group didn’t want to simply reduce costs. They were looking for an energy solution that would be both efficient and sustainable. The answer? Solar.

The power of sunshine

Solar panels on roofs are now a familiar sight in Australia. Second to Africa, Australia is the sunniest continent on Earth, so it makes sense that more and more Aussies are opting to harness the sun’s energy to power their households and businesses. Solar panels, generally made using silicon, draw down sunlight that is then converted into energy to power just about everything that plugs into an electrical socket.

The benefits of switching to solar energy are huge. Firstly, solar is a renewable energy, so it doesn’t produce any direct greenhouse gas emissions, thus reducing your carbon footprint. Solar energy leads to reductions in electricity bills – the electricity generated from your panels goes directly into powering your home or business. Any excess solar energy is fed back onto the grid, and solar energy is extremely low maintenance.

AGL has been providing cost-effective, renewable energy solutions for a while now, so when the Alto Group approached us to help out, we immediately swung into action.

After meeting with Anthony to determine his requirements, the AGL team installed 506 kW of solar panels on seven of the Alto Group’s sites across Sydney. As a result, the Alto Group saved almost $110,000 in their energy costs in their first year.

The Alto Group
The Alto Group

Let there be light

To bring down the costs associated with keeping the lights on all day and night, we replaced hundreds of halogen lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs throughout their car showrooms. Businesses, particularly those like car dealerships, rely on great lighting to create both a great working environment for staff and an enjoyable experience for their customers. LED lights use up to 80% less energy than halogen lights – and produce the same amount of light – so this was another quick and easy way for the Alto Group to reduce their consumption.

Upping the efficiency

Finally, we installed Power Factor Correction (PFC) equipment to improve the electrical efficiency of the tools and machinery the Alto Group were using onsite. Power factor is the measure of how effectively your business equipment uses electricity. Large businesses are charged for the demand they place on the grid, so improving your power factor – and correcting any inefficiencies with your equipment – will also lead to a reduction in charges.

An investment that’s paying off

Making the switch to renewable energy solutions isn’t cheap at the outset, but it pays in the long term. And the almost $500,000 investment made by the Alto Group is already returning benefits.

“Cost has always been an issue in the auto industry, which has high turnover and tight margins, but it’s a greater issue now,” Anthony explains. “Everybody wants to be environmentally friendly – as long as they don’t have to pay for it, but we recognised that if we can keep costs down, it makes us more sustainable.”

Since switching to solar, LED and power factor correction equipment two years ago, the Alto Group has reduced their energy usage by about 20% and saved almost $140,000 in their first year on energy bills. That means they’ve offset their greenhouse gas emissions by around 700 tonnes per year.

“Businesses across a range of industries can not only enjoy the financial rewards of solar, but also the environmental benefits. By drawing less power from the grid and using energy more efficiently, they can reduce their carbon emissions,” Brendan Weinert, AGL’s Head of Business Energy Solutions’ said on completion of the project.

We know that many of our customers feel the same way about shaping a more sustainable future. That’s why we offer carbon neutral options certified by Climate Active on AGL electricity, gas, solar, battery and energy efficiency products for business customers which help support  projects that not only meet the Carbon Neutral Standard integrity requirements set by Climate Active, but also provide other positive environmental and social benefits too.

Now’s the time for us all to responsibly manage our environmental footprint, with customers like the Alto Group leading the way.


Smart solar solutions for businesses

For more information on how your business could save with a solar solution, visit our energy management hub.

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