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Solar power provides electricity for vet clinic

Extra power sold back to city

Staff writer

Spur Ridge Veterinary Clinic is the first business in Marion to use solar panels as an alternative source of energy.

Owner Brendan Kraus said BTI Energy of Greensburg installed the system in December. At present, it provides about 85 percent of the clinic’s needs.

Kraus said he did it because he needed to find a more affordable way to operate his business.

“My energy costs were increasing quite a bit,” he said. “They took a big jump last year. It seems like a good fit for me so far.”

Before the panels were installed, Krause and Marion’s city administrator, Roger Holter, worked together to create an alternative energy agreement between him and the city.

Holter said he spent several days doing research and communicating with the company in Greensburg and the Kansas Municipalities Utilities Corporation in order to formulate an agreement.

Holter believes it will benefit both sides.

He said the solar panels should generate more energy than the clinic needs during the summer months. The agreement allows Kraus to sell the excess electricity to Marion. The city will purchase it at the same rate it pays the Kansas Power Pool.

Holter said the extra energy purchased from Kraus should help when electricity is in peak demand. He said it could reduce the surcharge to the power pool when demand exceeds usage limits.

“This is all in theory,” he said. “This is our first experience with this sort of thing.”

A $500 interconnect fee paid by Kraus covered the cost of a special type of metering equipment that reads electricity input and output. The meter was purchased from Augusta, which connects with a nearby wind farm.

Holter said the agreement limits the city to purchasing 5 percent of energy from alternative sources. Kraus’s contribution is expected to be less than 1 percent.

Kraus said the results have been “pretty good” so far. He said the panels are producing a little more energy than expected.

“As long as they do what was expected, I’ll be happy with them,” he said. “It’ll take a couple of years to break even. Then I’ll be a lot happier.”

He received a tax credit for part of the system’s cost.

Last modified May 14, 2015

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