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    Sonic Drive-In Serves Up Solar Energy

  • Industry News November 21, 2011

    Sonic Drive-In franchise owners, Jess and Andrea Wetsel, continued their commitment to renewable energy production with the announcement today of two additional solar powered, canopy-mounted systems at their Tigard and Hillsboro restaurants.


    These installations follow the first Sonic solar electric system installed in the Pacific Northwest at the Wetsel’s Wilsonville franchise earlier this year.


    The decision to go solar at these locations was natural for these quick-serve operators.


    We were anxious to invest in alternative energy again,” says Jess Wetsel, President of The Wetsel Company/Sonic Drive-In.


    As restaurant owners, the systems help us differentiate our locations and they make our restaurants more appealing to our current customers” he adds.


    Wetsel further comments that their Wilsonville restaurant has produced 17% above anticipated energy forecasts which makes this environmental decision an attractive financial one as well.


    Each 42-panel, 9.87 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system can generate approximately 11,380 kWh of electricity per year while offsetting up to 8,648 pounds of CO2 emissions annually.


    The systems utilize Schuco MPE polycrystalline modules as well as S-5! clamp systems which are mounted on standing seams versus rail mounts in order to eliminate metal canopy penetration.


    Kirk Cameron, President of NW Photon Energy of Lake Oswego, Oregon, designed and installed the systems.


    These systems are efficient, require minimal maintenance and will generate approximately $6,700 worth of electricity annually which will cover about 25 to 30 percent of the restaurants’ electricity costs,” Cameron notes.


    The Tigard and Hillsboro locations are two of six owned by The Wetsel Company.


    Their goal has been to add solar panels and produce renewable energy at all of their sites through PGE’s Feed-in-Tariff program.


    Through this program, customers receive payments from PGE for the electricity generated by their installations. Taking advantage of income tax depreciation, utility rebates, and state tax credits, installation costs are much more affordable.


    The Wetsels anticipate recouping installation costs after 6 years and then generating an alternative revenue source for the remaining 9 years of the Feed-in-Tariff agreement.


    Jess and Andrea Wetsel own and operate four Sonic Drive-In restaurants in Wilsonville, Hillsboro, Tigard and Washington Square Mall in Oregon and one in Vancouver, Washington.


    Sonic, America’s Drive-In has more than 3,500 drive-ins in 42 states coast to coast.


    NW Photon Energy (NWPE) is an active provider, designer and installer of turnkey photovoltaic (PV) and thin film solar systems in the Pacific Northwest.



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