Blackbeard's sails into solar power in Fresno

Blackbeard's in Fresno is going solar this summer with a new photovoltaic "tree"system.Blackbeard's in Fresno is going solar this summer with a new photovoltaic "tree"system.Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center, a popular destination for Central Valley families for more than 35 years, has announced it will soon break ground on a solar installation to power its facility in Fresno.


A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at Blackbeard’s, 4055 North Chestnut Diagonal, at 10 a.m. June 25. Blackbeard’s is a 15-acre park that features miniature golf, go-karts, laser tag, bumper boats, batting cages, paintball, water slides, an arcade, a rope course and Cap ‘N Kids Ride Land. The facility also has picnic areas.

The new solar system will include 19 ground-mounted solar "trees" using a total of 824 solar panels. The "trees" are large photovoltaic panels that act as car shades.

They are 15 feet tall, have large 40-foot-square platforms at the top and are held up by poles. Fourteen of the trees will provide shade for cars. The remainder will cover people eating lunch in the picnic area.

The system is expected to produce more than 316,317 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation. This equates to the reduction of more than 312,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of offsetting the power demand of 29 residential homes, removing 19 cars from the road or planting 4,665 trees each year.

The system will also include two electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for customers. It is only the third public car charging station in Fresno.

“We are excited to be the first family entertainment center in Fresno to install these types of solar trees,” said Greg Florer, founder and owner of Blackbeard’s in a release. “Along with providing a large amount of shade for our customers, we now have a way to combat rising energy costs. This in turn will help us to keep our prices low as families look for affordable entertainment options.”

Coarsegold, CA-based Earth Wind & Solar will install the 197.70–kilowatt system under a power purchase agreement (PPA) financing structure. The PPA enables businesses to adopt solar for no money down.

“Blackbeard’s has been a Fresno institution for nearly four decades”, said Robert Vaughan, President and CEO of Earth Wind & Solar. “With this new solar installation, the ownership of Blackbeard’s is making a serious commitment toward remaining a part of Fresno’s family entertainment scene for years to come.”

Construction on the system will begin this month and is slated to take four months to complete.