Case study: Solar panels in a veterinary clinic

Going green can be pricey, but for this veterinary practice owner, it's worth every penny.
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Oct 11, 2011
By dvm360.com staff

Want to go green in a big way? Follow the lead of Dr. Mark Hall, owner of Blount Veterinary Clinic in Maryville, Tenn., who installed 33 solar panels on his clinic’s roof. It’s a system that Dr. Hall expects to take a substantial bite out of his clinic’s power costs—although it could be more than 7 years before the system pays for itself. Hall currently pays 11 cents per kilowatt hour, but he gets a credit of more than twice that—23 cents per kilowatt hour—for the solar energy generated on his roof. Hall estimates if the panels generate half his power, all of his power costs are covered.

Hall’s system is capable of generating 230 watts of DC power per solar panel, totaling 7.59 kilowatts an hour. That power is converted to AC power by a device on the side of the veterinary clinic that works at more than 95 percent efficiency. The system cost Hall $53,750, but that was offset by a $1,000 green power award when the system went operational. Plus, Hall gets $15,000 in a federal stimulus money grant administered by the Tennessee Solar Institute at the University of Tennessee and he received a federal tax credit of more than $16,000 on his 2010 tax return.

Almost half the cost of the solar system was paid for with government money and that does not include deductions for depreciation, if Hall chooses to claim them. Hall’s setup faces a few degrees off due south, and it weighs about 4 to 5 pounds per square foot. The system can withstand a 155-mph wind and half-inch hail. It’s warranted to still produce 80 percent of its capacity in 25 years.

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