All-States pulls plug on energy cost
FLETCHER, N.C. — These days it’s not unusual to hear HME providers talk about eliminating expenses, but Marcus Suess has a particularly lofty goal: eliminate electricity costs.
“As competitive bidding and reductions in reimbursement continue, we should be prepared to offer lower prices and be more competitive,” said Suess, president of All-States Medical Supply. “If we can remove our electricity costs, that will help.”
So in February, the mail-order provider of diabetes and other supplies installed a net-zero solar panel system. The panels generate kilowatts of energy, which All-States then sells to local power company Duke Power. In turn, Duke Power sells energy back to the provider.
Although the amounts of energy generated vs. the amounts of energy consumed by All-States will vary depending on factors such as the use of air conditioning, at press time, the solar panels were generating double the amount of energy that the provider was consuming. All-States paid nearly $10,500 in electricity costs in 2012, and the provider expects to recoup that cost in 2013.
“At the end of the year, Duke should be basically paying us the same as we are paying them,” said Suess.
Suess described the upfront investment as substantial, although state and local tax credits totaling about 65% helped. He expects the system to take five years to start paying for itself.
“It is definitely a risk, and it was a risk we made before this last round of competitive bidding,” he said. “We were certainly unsure of our place in the HME field, but we knew we’d be around regardless.”
All-States hosted a community open house in April, inviting members of the local chamber of commerce, the healthcare community, and those interested in green energy.
“Even though we don’t sell locally, the point is for people to start knowing who we are in the community, as well as educate people on the benefits of solar energy,” said Tanya Fletcher, director of marketing.