Updated: 08/27/2014 6:24 AM
Created: 08/26/2014 11:05 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- The Mower County Humane Society has been in their new building less than a year, but they're already making some big improvements.
Workers recently began construction on a large solar array behind the Austin facility that shelter leaders hope will cut costs and help keep the shelter functional for years to come.
While only the frames are up now, the four sections will hold 144 solar panels capable of producing up to 39.6 kilowatts of energy.
Experts said it could be the largest solar array in the county, and shelter leaders said they need all the power they can get.
"This entire building is air-conditioned,” said Jane Roden, a volunteer and former MCHS president. “And of course with the in-floor heating, we use more heat than we would have at the old building."
The panels were paid for by donors, and while solar can be a big expense, leaders said they see no downside to the project.
"What [energy] we ourselves don't use, the city will buy from us,” Roden said. “So it's kind of a no lose situation."
hose installing the panels said the array could pay for itself within seven to 10 years, and they said more and more private businesses and homeowners are turning to solar energy as installation costs drop.
"In the last 10 years, it's probably dropped literally by half,” said Mark Owens, owner of Mark Owens Residential Design which is installing the solar system. “It's still creeping down monthly to a certain extent, and over the years for sure."
But with the shelter already over capacity for both dogs and cats, and many more on waiting lists to be taken in, volunteers said any financial savings will help keep their mission going.
"There's no reason to go part way and say we'll try to pay for a little bit of it,” Roden said. “But I think this is going to be very satisfactory."
The humane society is in need of volunteers and donations to help take care of the large amount of animals currently in the facility.
Their next fundraiser will be a Walk-A-Thon on Sunday, September 7th at Shirley Theel Memorial Park in Austin. For more information, visit their website by clicking on the following link: http://www.mowercountyhumanesociety.org/