- Associated Press - Friday, January 15, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Steve Peto was born and raised in Chicago, and moved to Reno in 2000. After moving back and forth, he decided to open a food truck, two years ago.

Now, Taste of Chicago can be found in various locations around the Biggest Little City, serving up food like hot dogs, Polish sausages, and Italian Beef Sandwiches. While that food is grilled on a propane stove, the lights, refrigerator, coffee pot, and even the stereo are powered by two solar panels. He says it is working so well, he might buy a third one.

“In the summer, I can run 10 hours on just the two 100-watt panels,” Peto said. “If I have a third panel for 300 watts, I can probably go another three hours on it.”

Of course, he gets fewer hours of use during the shorter days of the winter, but he says it still works well. When the solar panels are not producing electricity, he simply plugs his inverter in.

“So far, this winter has been great,” Peto said. “I’m not seeing a drop in sales at all. I’m actually seeing an increase in sales.”



Peto decided to look into solar panels after his generator broke down and could not be repaired. Rather than spend at least $1,400 on a new one, he says he had two solar panels, an inverter, charge controller, and batteries installed for less than $1,000. He says his new system also has fewer operating costs, and doesn’t require gasoline to produce electricity.

“You can spend $5 to $10 on fuel, every day,” Peto said. “With this, I really just maintain my batteries and make sure that my panels are clean and it’s all good to go.”

Peto says lower costs and a growing customer base has given his business a jolt.

“Business has been great,” Peto said. “I continually see growth, monthly.”

Peto says he is happy to be saving money, but also says it is important to use green energy to help the environment.

“It’s so important to do what we can to change the way that we consume energy in this country, and worldwide, really,” Peto said.

Taste of Chicago is operated out of a small trailer, so space is limited. Peto says that is another benefit of solar power. The two panels are mounted on his roof, saving space that the generator could not.

“A generator can be bulky and take up a lot of space, and the bigger your truck, the bigger the generator,” Peto said. “With this, I’m running off three batteries.”

“Taste of Chicago” sets up in different locations, usually six days a week.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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