Popular Mesa Restaurant Is State’s First Depending Solely on Solar
By Megan Sterling
Anzio Landing, a popular Italian restaurant just north of Falcon Field Airport in Mesa, might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of businesses using solar power. Rich Cutshall, owner of the self-proclaimed “mom and pop” restaurant, is the first to bring it up, and is proud that this is the first restaurant in Arizona to meet electrical power needs through solar power.
Cutshall conducted extensive research on solar power and its financial and environmental impact before making the decision to install solar panels. What it came down to, he says, is that installing a solar power system was “socially and environmentally the right thing to do.” He added, “It makes good business and economic sense.” Cutshall said his research found overwhelming evidence today’s consumers are becoming more and more conscious of consumption and, ultimately, want to patronize “green” businesses.
Beginning in January 2010, the Anzio Landing solar panel project made its way through both the City of Mesa and the Federal Aviation Administration before receiving approval. Ground-breaking took place in October 2010 and the official launch occurred on March 22, 2011.
Parking structures in the Anzio Landing parking lot were covered with 799 solar panels that generate 290,000 kWh each year, enough power to meet the needs of 40 Arizona homes. Whatever the restaurant doesn’t use for its own needs is pushed back out to the power grid, to be used by others in the surrounding area.
The project was designed and built by Green Choice Solar, a Scottsdale-based company with worldwide experience in green energy. According to President of Sales and Marketing Tony Doran the savings – both environmentally and financially – are tremendous. Over a period of 25 years, he estimates the system will eliminate 11.5 million pounds of greenhouse gasses and save approximately $1.3 million. “That’s the equivalent of planting 133,500 trees or taking 1,000 cars off the road,” he said.
For Cutshall, another factor in his decision was personal. He started his career as a police officer in the 1970′s and remembers being called out to gas stations to monitor lines during the energy crisis when gas was being rationed. “It stuck with me, living through that experience.”
The grin on Cutshall’s face is huge when he describes getting his first electricity bill after the project launch – one with a zero balance. He encourages business colleagues to consider solar power. “At this stage in the game, we as a state should be way out there in terms of doing this,” Cutshall says. Ultimately, he hopes to be an example to the business community, showing that embracing solar energy is a very positive undertaking.