Mexican fast food giant goes solar

The Taco Bell restaurant chain has announced that its outlet in Albany in the US is the first commercial establishment in the state of California to receive a PG&E rebate cheque for installing a solar hot water system under the newly instated CSI-Thermal programme for commercial and multifamily applications.

Taco Bell was a great candidate for solar thermal energy because of the restaurant’s need for hot water for cleaning, dishwashing, sanitation, and rest rooms. A complete replacement of the existing restaurant, owned by PRB Management, LLC, provided the opportunity to take a close look at the energy footprint of the facility and propose solutions to reduce greenhouse production while improving ongoing operating costs.

Because of the limited roof space, PRB opted for the highly efficient solar water heating system over the more common PV solar systems. The solar hot water system is comprised of two Heliodyne Gobi 410 collectors, creating 7.4 square metres of solar surface area and is configured as an Active Closed Loop System that feeds a 0.45 cubic metre solar storage tank. The system is sized to offset a portion of their usage estimated at 1.9 cubic metres of hot water each day. The closed loop system provides additional protections from freeze damage, overheating, and water scaling.

The onsite generation of solar hot water currently offsets 300 Therms of natural gas a year, saving PRB thousands of dollars in operating costs while directly reducing their greenhouse gas footprint.

“The Sun Light & Power team showed us how attractive the financial incentives could be for going solar. Their hot water system proved a good fit in our strategy of constructing a building that met or exceeded Albany’s requirements of a Certified Green Building,” says PRB’s Managing Director, Dave Fulwiler. “It’s not just about wanting to do the right thing anymore. It also makes great economic sense while allowing us to communicate our environmental commitment to our customers and communities. We are proud to be the first in the state of California to qualify for and receive the CSI-T rebate.”

A similar system was designed and installed by Sun Light & Power on the Taco Bell in Rancho Cordova (near Sacramento, CA) at approximately the same time.

Sun Light & Power was very involved in the process with CALSEIA and CSI to make certain that a rigorous solar thermal programme was launched to ensure that systems are built efficiently. “It’s extremely rewarding to participate in a new programme that benefits businesses and the planet in such a straightforward way. We’re excited to be in a position where our expertise can help to pass cost savings from the new rebate directly on to our customers,” says Lauren Tett, Sun Light & Power’s Rebate and Interconnection Department Manager.

Taco Bell has received a CSI-T Rebate for $3,649 (€2,808) which, when added to the Federal Tax Credit of 30%, reduces the total cost of the system by half. PRB Management will also reap the benefits of depreciating the system cost over time. These incentives make the system very easy to pay for and provide a rapid ROI. The long system life will provide 30 years or more of savings on natural gas bills.

For additional information:

Sun Light & Power


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