A pizza business goes green

A popular pizza restaurant in Arvin, a little community of 15,000 near Bakersfield, has become a showcase of sorts for energy efficiency.

Bear Mountain Pizza has gone green, with the help of officials with the city and the non-profit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, which is dedicated to helping the eight Valley counties become more energy efficient.

This small business in Arvin agreed to be a demonstration project to install energy-efficient technologies, including a solar array.

It also is part of an ambitious “Greening Arvin” program, sponsored by the city.

The energy upgrades at Bear Mountain Pizza included replacing windows, lights and doors with more energy-efficient models and adding a 3-kilowatt solar power system. The combined upgrades are expected to cut energy consumption 12%, slash the annual power bill $1,100 and avoid an estimated 3.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (the gases that cause global warming) per year, said Mike Kunz, the city’s development associate.

Restaurant patrons can see for themselves how the upgrades are working. A computer screen on a wall in the dining room monitors the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy savings.

Restaurant owner Manuel Pantoja said customers study the screen and can make the connection between energy upgrades and savings. He hopes to recoup his investment within six years through lower energy bills.

Pantoja received greater benefits because the upgrades coincided with a city-sponsored façade-improvement program that required participation in an Energy Watch plan by the local utility.

The city’s redevelopment agency picked up 90% of the cost improving the façade while Pacific Gas & Electric Co. paid for the Energy Watch upgrades, Kunz said. Together, those helped lower the cost to the business owner.