Businesses along Tucson's 4th Ave. leading solar charge

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- There's a growing movement on 4th Avenue designed to shine new light on solar power.  Three businesses have become among the first in Southern Arizona to be powered 100% by solar energy.

To make a good pie, the folks at Brooklyn Pizza use hand tossed dough, a special marinara, and power from the sun.

"We need to do a better job of taking care of the planet and stop using fossil fuels to the degree that we are," said Brooklyn Pizza owner Tony Vaccaro.

Vaccaro says switching to solar also made sense financially, comparing it to the cost of traditional power.

"You're basically prepaying your electric bill for seven years, after that you have free electricity for the life of the solar panels," said Vaccaro.

"They're not packaged systems.  They're all custom designed," said Kevin Koch from Technicians for Sustainability.

Technicians for Sustainability installed the solar panels for Antigone Books and the 91-kilowatt project shared between Brooklyn Pizza and Sky Bar.

"It looks like one system but it's actually three different systems.  The three systems feed three meters that all serve the two businesses," said Koch.

Business owners like Trudy Mills at Antigone Books admit the start up costs are pricey, but government and utility incentives make it all worth it.

"With tax credits and TEP grants it ends up paying for itself in about three and a half years," said Mills.

Mills hopes other businesses get inspired but the fourth avenue solar movement.