B&B Open house will show off solar project

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
There are 64 solar panels generating power next to the Baron’s garden,

Susan and Burney Baron, owners of Los Gatos Bed & Breakfast will keep the light on for their guests — and not be worried about the cost.

The Barons recently installed several solar panels in their property’s yard and on their house’s roof, and now they are preparing for a Sept. 10 open house for anyone interested in learning more about solar power.

The award-winning B&B owners have found a successful niche in the lodging business partly because of their “grow our own” approach to hospitality. Their gardens and chickens provide the basis for many of their culinary offerings. Now they can say, “We grow our own electricity.”

The Barons were looking for a way to harness their electricity costs, and learned about some of the incentive programs and low interest rates tied to solar power projects. After consulting with the engineers and project manager at QwikSolar in Geneva, the Barons went ahead with the project early this summer, and saw results immediately.

Their July 2012 electric bill was $380. Their July 2013 bill was $7.19.

Burney says the solar project wasn’t completely unfamiliar. They had been using solar power for their hydroponic strawberry plants which produce fruit through the summer, so they were familiar with solar power systems.

Technicians from QwikSolar installed the large system during the early summer heat wave, and when it was complete, power flowed from the 64 panels on the ground and 22 panels on the roof into the main building and two cabins of the inn.

The system is large to fit the needs of the inn - which needs to power five air conditioners, two sets of washers and dryers, freezers and refrigerators. A typical residential installation would be smaller, says Susan.

Excess power that’s not used by the inn is sent out to the grid, making the Baron’s electric meter spin backwards.

Now that the project is complete, the Barons are often visited by passers-by who want to learn more about the system.

That’s why they have decided to hold the open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 10.

“We aren’t going into the solar panel business, but we are finding that so many people are interested in the panels we figured this would be a fun way to share,” explains Susan.

For more information on solar power systems for residential or commercial use, visit QwikSolar.com.

If you go

What: Open House

When:3 - 6 p.m. Sept. 10

Where: Los Gatos B&B 1491 Route 14A, Penn Yan (north of the village)