Since 1974, Tomasita’s Restaurant has maintained a commitment to the recipes and ingredients of New Mexico: Hatch chilies, pinto beans, corn, and fruit cultivated under the warm rays of the sun. Later this month, this beloved local favorite will begin adding a new ingredient to the mix: renewable electricity generated by its own solar array.
For the last few months, passersby have marveled at the structure rising from the parking lot next to the restaurant. A shelter for train passengers? A cover for street festivals? Instead, the impressive structure is a 68.67 kW grid-tied solar carport with 210 SunPower high efficiency solar panels that does double-duty as shaded parking for 24 cars. It also includes a charging station for one electric car.
George Gundrey, owner and manager, Tomasita’s Restaurant in the Railyard, is justifiably proud of the solar array, which he calls an “investment in New Mexico’s future.”
“Solar makes so much sense in New Mexico,” said Gundrey. “As a long-standing family-owned business in Santa Fe, we are not only committed to supporting our local culinary tradition, but also to being a role model as a socially responsible business. Our solar array will help us control our energy costs, but most importantly, it will mean cleaner air, decrease emissions of toxic chemicals and reduce our impact on climate change. By installing the solar array, we are renewing our commitment to be a family-run business in Santa Fe for decades to come.”
Tomasita’s solar array was designed and installed by Positive Solar Energy, New Mexico’s oldest and largest solar system provider with more than 1,000 residential and commercial installations across the state. The company is also one of Solar Power World’s Top 250 Contractors. The solar system is designed to generate at least 85 percent of the restaurant’s peak electric usage for at least 25 years. Additionally, it will prevent 1,202 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and save 686,700 gallons of water from being used for power plant steam turbines over the 25-year warranty period of the solar panels.
Positive Energy Solar CEO Regina Wheeler said restaurants across the country are turning to alternative energy technologies like solar to reduce their operating costs. “It’s a smart investment that allows restaurant owners to hold energy costs down, while differentiating themselves. We worked closely with Tomasita’s to create a solar system that not only optimized power generation, but was also aesthetically pleasing. Solar sells, especially when it doubles as covered parking.”
Positive Energy Solar’s solar professionals—who enjoy a 100 percent satisfaction rating from customers—employed sensitivity and experience in designing and installing Tomasita’s solar array as the Railyard is among Santa Fe’s most visible tourist destinations. The New Mexico Rail Runner terminal serves an important gateway for visitors.
Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico, whose organization released a report on New Mexico’s policies in the fight against global warming today, saluted Tomasita’s for embracing renewable energy. “It is very powerful when a respected business like Tomasita’s recognizes its role in protecting the environment and willingly invests in a solar energy system. We can and will reduce global warming if we all work together,” Moore said.
Gundrey believes the community and visitors will see Tomasita’s new solar array as a welcome addition to the restaurant’s offerings. “Tomasita’s is celebrated for our chili, green and red. We are really excited about adding to our appeal as a green business in Santa Fe.”