America’s Drive-In is going green, and the Alamo City has become the company’s official testing ground for rooftop solar power.
Work crews recently installed 90 solar panels on the roofs of three covered ordering areas at the Sonic Drive-In off DeZavala Road and Interstate 10.
Barely noticeable to the casual passer by, Sonic officials flipped the switch earlier this month, making the solar panels live and fully operational.
Sonic Corp.’s Senior Director of Facilities Wayne Brayton said the company will be watching the panels’ performance closely.
“We’re very excited to see what the results are,” Brayton said. “We have some estimates of what we’re going to save, but we’re going to be tracking it for the next six months or so to see how it compares to last year’s light bills.”
While a Sonic franchise owner in Oregon is already using solar panels to save $4,500 per year on that location’s light bill, the DeZavala restaurant is the first corporate-owned location to use rooftop solar.
Brayton said the average Sonic restaurant uses $2,000 per month in electricity and that the solar panels are expected to save up to $400 per month.
“We’ll test it here for a few months to see how it goes and then share our findings with our franchisees and see if we can’t get some of them to sign on as well,” Brayton said.
Brayton said San Antonio was chosen as a test market due to rooftop solar rebates that provided an attractive price point.
While the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit for rooftop solar, Brayton said CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility company, further sweetened the deal by providing an additional 50 percent rebate through a 2015 program.
Working from a list of local companies authorized by CPS Energy, Sonic chose One80 Solar as its rooftop solar installer.
Brayton said Sonic is expected to receive about $38,000 through the CPS Energy rebate alone.
“It was a good opportunity for us to try the solar panel system and save a few dollars on the install and the electric bill,” Brayton said.