Five Star goes solar

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Becoming almost completely powered by the sun is no easy feat. But it was a goal Jim Sperlazza had for his Five Star Auto Care business in Rocklin and a goal worth reaching. Unveiled early October were 612 solar panels totaling about a quarter of an acre and part of the 104-kilowatt solar system. With the new system, Sperlazza said Five Star has become 90 percent powered by the sun. The project began in July, but Sperlazza said he began researching the green idea a year and a half ago. At first he was concerned about inconveniencing customers, but has found many praising his efforts and even asking how they can become solar in their homes. “We had an opportunity to reduce our footprint,” Sperlazza said. “The customers love it.” Part of what prompted the idea was, being in an industry with autos – one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide – Sperlazza said it was their chance to go big with the green movement. Five Star Auto Care has taken green into other realms of their business including the use of eco-friendly cleaning solutions, energy-saving blow dryers and biodegradable products. In the solar aspect, Sperlazza is fairly confident his business is the first in the area to reach 90 percent solar and has yet to find a car wash close to 100 percent. And within the month, Five Star has caught the attention of other car wash retailers, asking for advice on going solar. With the help of Yes! Solar Solutions in Roseville, Sperlazza was able to make his vision a reality. The solar panels are placed on the rooftops of homes and businesses, typically facing south. In Five Star Auto Care’s case, the panels were mounted to structures for car washing and drying. Each solar module contains photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into direct current power, which is directed to an inverter. The inverter changes the DC power into alternating current power and transmits the electricity to the business’ primary electrical panel, where it distributes for use. Sperlazza said it makes sense to use sunlight to power the facility because sunny days are the most lucrative for a car-washing business. “When it’s light out, you’re going to get something,” said Jeff Stover, sales manager for Yes! Solar Solutions. Each project is custom and meets the needs of each customer, said Mike Anderson, vice president of marketing for Solar Power Inc. (manufacturer for Yes! Solar Solutions). Anderson said that solar panels provide businesses with a means to become energy independent, and Sperlazza has. For more information on solar panels through Yes! Solar Solutions, go to What: Five Star Auto Care Services: car washing, auto repair, smog checks, car detailing and express lube Where: 6818 Five Star Blvd., Rocklin Info: 315-0555,