Solar energy cuts animal shelter bills

With the onset of summer, the Bartholomew County Humane Society finally put new solar panels to the test.

It turns out that the savings on the utility bill at the organization’s shelter, 4415 E. County Road 200S, were as expected.

Before the solar panels were installed last fall, summer air conditioning in the 8,000-square-foot building was pushing the electric bill up to about $ 1,000 a month, said Cheryl Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury, longtime member of the retired company and educator.

But when the June bill arrived, the solar panels cut utility costs by a third, Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury said.

Now that the organization is saving more than $ 300 per month over the summer, it will have more funds to pay for sterilization and sterilization surgeries, as well as to invest more in community and medical care, said shelter manager Kirsten VantWoud in a previous interview.

The Columbus Solar Power Initiative helped the humanitarian company do their homework by comparing different products before deciding on the 64-panel system, Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury said. Another important decision was to install the panels at ground level on about five acres of unused land, rather than attaching them to the roof.

This was followed by nearly a year of fundraising before the $ 46,000 required for the purchase was secured, Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury said.

The two largest funders are the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew Count and the Henry Conover Foundation. Additional funds have been provided by the Custer-Nugent Foundation and individual donors, she said.

The panels were installed in approximately two weeks by technicians from Solar Energy Solutions LLC. Based in Lexington, Ky., The company had just completed larger projects for Northside Middle and Taylorsville elementary schools before being hired to lower the animal shelter’s energy bills.

Once the panels were in place, the project came to an abrupt halt. A contractor hired to install a power conversion generator connected equipment with insufficient load capacity, Zuckschwerdt-Ellsbury said.

While the aid company was able to secure funds from another foundation to get the right kind of generator, it resulted in a delay that prevented solar panels from coming online until November, she said.

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