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Stockton Chick-fil-A to produce its own renewable energy under new pilot program

Owners of Chick-fil-A Stockton say since activating the solar-powered microgrid, the restaurant has reduced carbon emissions and reliance on the city's power grid.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and renewable energy are now being served up under a new pilot program unveiled Wednesday at Stockton's Chick-fil-A location.

Stockton's mayor and local business leaders gathered for a "green ribbon cutting" Wednesday introducing the restaurant's solar-powered microgrid system.

"Today is amazing," said Chick-fil-A Stockton's Owner-Operator April Farage after cutting the green ribbon. "It's just so awesome to be able to show off this technology finally to everybody that has worked hard to put it together and to showcase the team and all the efforts that they do."

The new microgrid, which Chick-fil-A officials say is the first of its kind at a quick-service restaurant in the U.S., consists of solar panels which cover the restaurant's parking lot and drive-thru areas, providing shade for cars and employees working outside.

The solar panels collect sunlight, which is converted into renewable energy that powers the restaurant and supplies backup generators.

Credit: ABC10
Team members at Chick-Fil-A Stockton take orders underneath solar panels which fuel the restaurant's industry-leading solar microgrid unveiled Wednesday.

"We have a lot of equipment that we run in our building; several fryers that make our amazing hand-breaded chicken and our waffle fries, we have freezers and coolers that require a large amount of energy," Farage said. "This new technology has been developed to help us with that and be able to do that in a smaller footprint over our parking arrays."

Farage says the grid will turn the restaurant into a safe haven during power shutoffs and outages.

"If the power goes out in Stockton, we'll be able to be fully functional and serve our community and keep our team here working until the power comes on," Farage said. "We're really excited about that to provide a safe haven for everyone."

Aside from providing electricity to the restaurant, the microgrid program will give restaurant managers and owners the power to keep track of energy usage.

Also keeping track of the program are officials from Chick-fil-A's corporate office, who are looking to expand the pilot project later in the year to include two other Chick-fil-A locations in the state.

"It gives April the opportunity to kind of peek into her dashboard and understand how much energy she is using so she can potentially make some behavior changes in the restaurant," said Stephanie Armistead, Chick-fil-A's Sustainability Program Manager for Energy and Water. "We're a very caring company and it's a terrific opportunity for April to continue to demonstrate how much she cares for her staff, her team members, her guests and the community of Stockton."

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Since activating the grid, the restaurant says it has reduced carbon emissions by 68 metric tons and reduced its reliance on the community's power grid by 60%.

Farage says she hopes to reinvest funds saved by the program into team members and local nonprofits supported by her employees.

During the ribbon cutting Wednesday, a check for $30,000 was presented to Mim's Croner, a San Joaquin County nonprofit that helps homeless kids and families. 

"It means a lot. One, just from being a good steward of our resources in the community, but also be able to save on our utility bills to be able to reinvest in our team," Farage said. "We're really proud to be great financial stewards so our team members can serve the community of Stockton every single day."

Watch More Stockton Stories from ABC10: Poet wants to rid Stockton of food desert by converting Kmart to grocery store

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