First Mexican Restaurant with Solar Power
Saul Sierra,owner of the restaurant has dedicated the popular spot to the renewableenergy cause. After ten years at the same location he decided to makean investment in future generations. The 3.99kW solar awning structureis expected to cover up to 20% of the electric utility consumption.This will be an annual carbon offset of 7,958 pounds of CO2. The costof the installation was offset by a rebate from Xcel Energy and afederal tax credit for businesses who utilize renewable energy options.
Theinstallation was performed by Boulder, CO based Lighthouse Solar. Itwas their first use of the unique bifacial panels for a commercialapplication. They have also designed and built smaller versions to actas carports or residential awnings. This structure was custom designedfor the location and to support the weight of the 28 solar panels. Theelectric meter and emergency shutoff were moved to the east side of thebuilding so people can see how the solar PV system ties into the powergrid.
Other steps they have taken include replacing the interiorlighting with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s), switching torecyclable or biodegradable to-go containers and using an energy savingfeature on the appliances while they are closed. Mi Cocina uses EagleWaste and Recycling for their ‘single stream’ recycling of cardboard,plastic and glass. They now recycle almost three times as much as theythrow away by volume. The dishwasher is an energy star Auto-Chlorsystem that only uses 1.09 gallons of water per cycle (vs. 2+ gallonsof water for conventional dishwashers.) There are also no phosphates inthe soap used in the dishwasher which is environmentally friendly.Ultimately Saul sees a place to educate the community and encourage theuse of renewable resources. They have planned events and school fieldtrips to show interested residents that clean renewable energy works.Saul put it very simply "This is the right thing to do."
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