KFC has unveiled a solar-powered drive-thru at its Bakersfield, Calif. location, the chain announced Thursday. The franchised unit is run by the Stewart Restaurant Group.
“We needed a canopy over our drive-thru to protect our team members taking orders outside of the building,” said Justin Stewart, co-owner of the Stewart Restaurant Group, in a statement. “When we compared the costs of a typical canopy to the costs and value of Integrate Solar’s canopy, the decision to go solar was a no-brainer!”
The solar paneling — designed by Integrate Solar — is on the location’s drive-thru to protect workers from the sun, and is expected to save the unit $400,000 over its lifetime.
The canopy is 72 feet, equipped with 57 solar panels, and will produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy over the lifetime of the system, according to Integrate Solar.
The restaurant’s electricity cost in the first year alone will be lowered by $11,000.
“As California’s electricity rates continue to rise, fast food restaurants have looked for ways to lower their energy bills, but have never found their small, equipment-filled rooftops viable options for solar,” Integrate Solar co-founder Kevin Benefiel said in a statement. “This solution solves that problem and helps improve a store’s operations overnight.”
Additionally, solar canopies, like the one at the Bakersfield KFC, are eligible for a tax credit worth up to 60% of the unit’s cost. The solar Investment Tax Credit was extended and expanded as part of the Inflation Reduction Act last year.
Because of these tax breaks, the Stewart Restaurant Group will recoup the cost of the paneling in just five years.