Dentist goes ‘Green’

F amily Dentistry goes green

The four black metal posts along the west side of North Street might look like one of the offices was adding some lighting to the parking lot. The reality, however, is Family Dentistry is hoping to subtract some dollars from its electric bill.

A solar panel array, which has been mounted on top of the poles that flank the driveway, will provide electrical power to offset what the office buys from the power company on a daily basis and reduce what the company pays for power each year, installers said.

Josh Thomas and Mike Tudor of Positive Energy NY worked last week putting the finishing touches on a solar panel system for Family Dentistry, which when competed is hoped to account for approximately 40 percent of the daily electricity used, they said.

Once the system is tied into the building, Thomas said, it will supplement the power needs of the office and lead to lower electrical bills.

“If you’re making more than you’re using you can sell it back to the power company. It could actually spin the meter backwards,” Thomas said.

The rotating disc inside the power meter will literally turn in the opposite direction at times when the panels are operating and the office is not using much power, for example, on a Saturday when the office is not open, leading to a reduction in the office’s power bill, he said. 

The 11.3-kilowatt system consisting of four posts supporting multiple panels has a tracking system set up to follow the sun in its path across the skies of Granville. Like a flower, the panel will move slowly throughout the day to stay at the best angle to the sun’s rays before returning to position to start over again each morning.

Although this setup is more costly than stationary panels, Thomas said, it gathers more energy because it is programmed to follow the sun on a daily basis for maximum exposure, allowing the office to get the most out of the panel system. The complete system cost about $90,000.

Thomas said his father Joe’s company, Positive Construction, has been doing solar panel installations for about three years at this point, mostly in the Albany area, but it has seen more attention closer to home as the cost of solar panel setups have come down.

“The cost of a kilowatt hour has come down a lot,” Thomas said.

Prior to the North Street job the company installed one other setup in Washington County in Hudson Falls.

Dr. Jennifer Kelley, D.D.S., of Family Dentistry credited the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce for sparking the move to solar power.

“It just drove me insane. I don’t like paying for foreign oil,” Kelley said.

Although she said she was interested in making the move, Joe Thomas is her husband and she was well aware of what solar panels could do. She said cost was a prohibitive factor initially until she got the e-mail from the Chamber.

“It was Denise Davies from the Chamber; she sent an e-mail around,” Kelley said. “If it hadn’t been for Denise, she was the only reason we knew about (the incentives).”

The e-mail detailed incentives to businesses or people adding solar power or any alternative energy systems from grants to tax credits that reduce the impact to the bottom line.

Family Dentistry has nine treatment rooms and 22 employees with three doctors on staff, meaning computers, lights and devices of all types using lots of electricity.

Kelley said her office manager, Jodie Whitney, wrote a grant application associated with the project and she expects to see both state and federal income tax credits to cover some of the costs of the project. The grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture could yield $22,000, if successful, Whitney said.

Like any federal program, Kelley said, a tremendous amount of paperwork had to be completed relating to the grant; she hired a specialist to work on the paperwork.  

It is not clear when the system will effectively pay for itself through the reduced power expenses, Kelley said.

In the future, Kelley said, she hopes to see other businesses taking advantage of the incentives to bring a little green technology to Granville. Whitney said Monday the system had been completed and tied into the building Friday, Dec. 31, and was under use to start the new year.

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