Frozen confections from two local, family-owned and operated Dairy Queens taste twice as nice knowing the restaurants support several sustainable efforts, including electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar energy, LED lighting and recycling.

Profit margins in the restaurant business are often razor thin. So when Don Gin and his wife invested in solar shade structures and EV chargers (EVCs) at their two DQ store locations at 1760 W. Speedway and 1025 E. Irvington, it was a big decision.

But it’s precisely because margins are so low that it made perfect sense to the Gins.

“Our decisions were financially driven by the rebates offered by Tucson Electric Power and the federal tax credits we could receive for installing solar. We also could reduce our energy costs and be eco -friendly and forward-thinking,” said Gin, who noted theirs is a family-owned business. His wife Jennifer handles the bookkeeping while his daughter, Summer Huntington, runs the day-to-day operations.

Last year, the Gins installed a dual-port Level 2 charging station at their Speedway location and then added the same model charger at their Irvington location in October to take advantage of generous rebates offered through TEP’s Smart EV Charging Program.

TEP’s program offers commercial, multifamily residential complexes and nonprofit agencies attractive rebates for installing at least two EVCs. Besides the incentives, TEP offers technical project support. TEP’s rebates covered 85 percent of the project cost.

The installation of the EVCs combined with solar created a unique energy-saving synergy. The energy produced by their solar parking structures helps generate power for the charging stations to help reduce their energy bills.

“Our Speedway store has a 93 kilowatt solar system that can generate up to 90 percent of our electrical consumption, and our Irvington store’s 56 kW system can produce up to 58 percent of energy needs,” Gin said. “The solar panels help generate electricity for our new EV chargers.”

The Gins also have been retrofitting their lighting with LEDs since early 2020 and receiving rebates through TEP’s Commercial Energy Solutions program. As good environmental stewards, they also recycle all of their paper goods to reduce landfill waste.

The Gin’s commitment to sustainability extends to their home as well, where they have rooftop solar and own an EV. They took advantage of TEP’s residential rebates for the installation of a qualified charger at their home.

“Installing EVCs, investing in solar and taking steps to reduce energy is just the right thing to do,” Gin said. “It also demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability to our customers and the community.”

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