LES making push for solar energy

Published: Nov. 30, 2016 at 5:57 PM CST
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Nebraska's largest solar farm is now in use right here in Lancaster County, and soon LES customers will have the opportunity to invest in the renewable energy, as well as their future electric bills.

LES's SunShares program generates power from 15,333 panels at the Holdrege Solar Center.

One of the managers for the LES program tells 10/11 News that renewable energy is already a third of how LES produces power, but the majority of that is through wind and hydro-electric.

The manager said this new push for solar is because LES customers were passionate for a stronger solar program. Right now solar power is not one of their leading sources of energy, but that might change over time.

"The price of solar is dropping all the time, and some day we might have a larger project and if we do, the experience we gather here will be instrumental in that," said manager for LES resource and transmission planning, Scott Benson.

Each one of the panels are set up on a mechanical swivel to adjust with the sun and get the most amount of sunshine throughout the day. This way the panel can generate the maximum amount of energy.

"These panels start off in the morning at a 45 degree angle to the east catching the first sun over the horizon, then throughout the day they rotate and at the end of the day they end on a 45 degree angle to the west, capturing the last sun as it leaves the day," said Benson.

At peak conditions the farm can produce enough energy to power 900 Lincoln homes, but not everyday is sunny.

"Yeah, even like an overcast sky like this it is still producing enough to power maybe 100-to-150 typical Lincoln homes," said Benson.

LES is unveiling their Virtual Net Metering program tomorrow, December 1. This new program allows you to invest in the solar farm now, and the hope is the solar power is effective and it will cut down on your bill for years to come.

A person can pay an upfront payment to gather a portion of the project and that energy output would show up as a credit on their bill for what could be the next 20 years.

The Virtual Net Metering program will be open to the public starting Thursday, December 1. LES is even hosting an open meeting regarding new solar options for customers December 1, from 6 to 7 p-m at the Walter A. Canney Service Center.