February 23, 2011 // Franchising.com // Wilsonville, Oregon – SONIC Drive-In franchise owners, Jess and Andrea Wetsel, announced today the installation of the company's first solar electric system on a SONIC Drive-In restaurant. The 45-panel, 9.9 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system can generate more than 11,380 kWh of electricity per year making the Wilsonville restaurant the first solar energy producer by a SONIC Drive-In franchise in the Pacific Northwest.
"We've recognized an environmentally friendly method of reducing our operating costs while reducing our carbon footprint," said Andrea Wetsel of The Wetsel Company/SONIC Drive-In. "This is a great step toward sustainability. With this system, we can eliminate approximately 8,648 pounds of CO2 emissions annually while producing clean, renewable energy," added Wetsel.
The Wetsel Company's solar initiative allows them to produce and sell electricity to Portland General Electric (PGE) through PGE's Solar Payment Option, or solar "Feed-in-Tariff" program, established in 2009. Solar Payment Option customers receive payments from PGE for the electricity generated by their installation instead of receiving kilowatt-hour credits like Net Metering customers.
Jess Wetsel of The Wetsel Company comments "our system helps PGE meet is objectives of providing green power. After evaluating the opportunity, we realized it makes good environmental sense and good business sense." Wetsel would not disclose the cost of the system but said he anticipates the restaurant will recoup its cost after 6 years and then generate an alternative revenue source for the remainder of the nine years of the Feed-in-Tariff agreement.
The canopy-mounted system was designed and installed by NW Photon Energy (NWPE) of Lake Oswego, Oregon. Utilizing PV modules manufactured by Schuco, the system uses an S-5! clamp system on standing seams versus a rail mounting system. This eliminates the need to penetrate the metal canopy which means less potential for future leaks. Kirk Cameron, President of NWPE, said that "the system is fast and efficient, the maintenance is minimal and the power that SONIC produces will have a resell value of $0.59/kWh totaling $6,700 annually."
Jess and Andrea Wetsel own and operate three SONIC Drive-In restaurants in Wilsonville, Hillsboro and Tigard, Oregon and one in Vancouver, Washington.
SONIC, America's Drive-In (NASDAQ/NM:SONC), specializes in made-to-order fast food and is known for its specialty menu items and personal Carhop service. As the nation's largest chain of drive-in restaurants, SONIC has more than 3,500 drive-ins in 42 states coast to coast. More than 3 million customers eat at SONIC every day; and with more drink combinations than any other quick-service restaurant – more than 168,000 – SONIC is Your Ultimate Drink Stop.
NW Photon Energy (NWPE) is an active provider, designer and installer of turnkey photovoltaic (PV) and thin film solar systems in the Pacific Northwest. They offer a full range of services in connection with the planning, development, implementation, operation and financing of commercial and utility scale solar solutions. NWPE is an approved Energy Trust Trade Ally.
Located in Lake Oswego, Oregon, they work closely with state agencies, power suppliers and businesses to provide the most experienced solutions for their renewable solar energy systems.