The public is invited to participate in a free "Power Lincoln" Solar Tour Saturday, August 10. The event begins at 10 a.m. with a news conference at the Jayne Snyder Trails Center, 250 N. 21st Street. The facility, completed in 2012, was designed to be "green" with solar panels and LED lighting as well as energy efficient windows, doors, insulation and other materials.
Participants in the tour, sponsored by Power Lincoln Locally, will board vans to view other solar installations. Sites include the Lincoln Police Department's (LPD) Center Team station, N. 27th and Holdrege; the UNL Animal Science Complex; and the Hyde Memorial Observatory at Holmes Lake. More information is available at powerlincolnlocally.com. The tour includes lunch and is expected to end at 3 p.m. Reservations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City funded the solar projects at the Trail Center and the LPD facility with funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "The cost of solar installations dropped 52 percent between 2010 and 2012, making it a far more cost-effective solution," said Milo Mumgaard, Senior Policy Aide to Mayor Chris Beutler. "This is a smart investment because it lowers energy bills, saving taxpayer dollars. It also demonstrates how practical and easy it is to 'go solar' and creates more awareness of solar energy's potential to create jobs."
The photovoltaic system was installed in June on the LPD facility's southern roof. The building was chosen for the installation because it is one of the City's most energy efficient buildings, with a geothermal heating and cooling system. The LPD installation used $48,440 in federal funds, and the Trail Center installation used $30,700 in federal funds.
Mumgaard said solar energy in Lincoln is strongly supported by the Lincoln Electric System (LES). It provides "net metering" rates for customers who install and operate solar photovoltaic installations up to 100 kilowatt hours, far above State law minimums. LES customers also now qualify for a one-time "capacity payment" of up to $500 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced.
The Mayor's Office, through its Cleaner Greener Lincoln initiative, will soon launch the SOLAR emPOWERED information source at green.lincoln.ne.gov. The site will include information on solar installations in Lincoln along with links to "real time" energy monitors for many of these examples.
"Many residents are excited about going solar, but don't know what to do first," said Mumgaard. "By pulling some of this basic information into one place, we hope more people will see how easy, affordable and realistic to go solar and lower energy bills."