Solar goes to the dogs


Energy Innovation Center. Photo by Will Coleman
Energy Innovation Center. Photo by Will Coleman


WINDSOR, Vt. – The war on global climate change is in full swing, with some Vermont citizens responding with batteries of solar panels, regiments of wind farms and help from Efficiency Vermont.

Efficiency Vermont is a state-sponsored non-profit organization that helps with consulting and subsidizing efficiency projects, among other activities, throughout the state.

The Lucy MacKenzie Humane Society, a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter in West Windsor, has joined the skirmish with its own solar array.

Initiated by the shelter’s Board of Directors, the project was a joint effort with Green Mountain Power.

Although the cost of solar has dropped dramatically, it continues to require substantial upfront costs. There are no cost programs where someone else pays for the installation, but the investor then recovers a considerable amount of the savings as profit.

“Lucy MacKenzie operates on a very tight budget and does not have thousands of dollars to invest in projects such as these,” said board member John Zahara. “Luckily, we were made aware of a program offered by Green Mountain Power through an Energy Innovation Center grant that is available for non-profits.”

This particular program is designed to incentivize non-profits who may have less capital and who cannot take clean energy investments as a write-off on their taxes. The grant essentially provided matching funds for the installation.

Looking to maximize the grant, the shelter was able to provide $20,000 upfront. With a matching grant, they installed an 11.7-kilowatt solar system. It will generate a calculated 15,400 kilowatt hours per year, which accounts for nearly one-third of Lucy MacKenzie’s electrical power consumption.

The array was designed to be expanded upon in the future, if so desired. It is a net-metering system, which means the power that is generated is fed directly into the power grid. The generated amount is then applied to the utility bill as a credit.

Along with a clean energy incentive from the state of Vermont, this should save them $3,000 per year, thereby paying back the initial investment in about seven years. After that, they will have free energy for the life of the equipment, which has a 25-year warranty.

Zahara said they’re pleased with the solar project so far.

“The project was unanimously supported by the board members, not only because it addresses the reduction of operating costs, but it also furthers the business vision of the shelter by helping to protect the environment for all living beings,” he said.

The Lucy MacKenzie Humane Society is located at 4832 Route 44, West Windsor, Vt.

They offer adoption services for cats and dogs, as well as low-cost spay and neuter clinics. To adopt a pet, volunteer time or donate money, they can be reached at (802) 484-5829.


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