When I learned that the Fairfax 5 Theatres, in Fairfax, California, was to be installed with a solar photovoltaic system, I immediately thought of that old joke (unfortunately directed towards a certain nationality) about the idiotic invention of a solar-powered flashlight. Movie projectors running on solar-powered electricity? Absurd. Especially since most people go to the movies at night! But, of course, my initial thoughts were just as stupid as the flashlight idea, even if I was merely trying to think of a corresponding joke and all the time actually knew, obviously, that solar energy isn't only useful during the hours that the sun is out.
The second thing I thought of, though, all joking aside, was the possibility of a lowered electricity bill. One of the costliest parts of running a movie theater is all the electricity used for lighting, projection, air conditioning, etc. It's these costs that primarily keep concession prices up, as they're a major part of a cinema's constant overhead. Certainly Cinema West, the company that owns Fairfax 5 Theatres, is thinking about the environmental benefits of solar energy, and their new system is indeed reportedly expected to offset nearly 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases. But surely the cost cutting was a big incentive, too. Over the 30-year life of the system, Cinema West is looking to save more than $627,000.