From Horse Barn to Wellness Center, Part 8: Overcoming Solar Power Barriers


Photos by Adam D. Bearup

Following the journey to remodel a horse barn into a commercial wellness center on a Midwestern property zoned for agriculture. This multi-part series recounts the considerations, pitfalls and ultimate successes of a green-building project with an ambitious scope to bring a defunct farm building new life as a natural health destination.

The horse barn was steadily taking shape to become the owners’ vision. However, we needed to overcome the bump in the road for installing solar power (detailed in the previous installment). This meant working with the Zoning Administrator on ground-mounted solar options.

Exploring Solar Tax Credit

Thankfully for us, there was another project in the Township whose developer had requested a ground-mounted solar array, and those people had already gone through the multiple meetings required to get the zoning changed to allow ground-mounted solar arrays. Our meeting was a few months away — after the first of the year when a 30-percent federal tax credit for solar was set to begin. We needed to make a decision whether we were going to pre-order everything for the solar installation.

When the owners asked me if we should take the chance and pre-order everything for the solar array without knowing the outcome of the Township meeting, my reply was like it is with many tricky decisions: “Let’s look at it from another angle.”

Neither a yes nor a no — not even a maybe — I asked the owners to check with their tax preparer to see how much the ederal tax credit decreased in the new year and if there was a way to take advantage of the 30 percent tax credit by pre-purchasing. I would give them my answer to the pre-ordering question only after we knew everything that we could know about the tax credits

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