Solar panels gaining popularity in Lincoln

Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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Solar energy seems to be sweeping the capital city as people and businesses are looking to the sky to power their buildings.

Now a local business is looking to max out on the trend and give back to the city at the same time.

LES keeps track of about 125 customer-owned solar systems on homes and businesses around town.

The roof on a soon to be medical practice off 70th and South Street will feature 80 panels.

“What you’re seeing is the largest private PV panel that you can put on a roof and still connect to the LES system,” said Peter Hind a Schemmer senior architect.

When the building is complete it will run on mainly solar energy but when it produces more energy than its consuming it will send that energy right back into the grid.

“On a Sunday for example the building will use very, very little energy,” said Hind. “It uses LED lights so even the lights are using very small amounts so it will produce more than it uses on those times.”

The panels were installed by SWT Energy. It says their business increases year after year but tax incentives have been a big push recently.

“Last year there was a really big rush,” said Eric Moyer with the company. “The federal tax credit stepped down from 30 to 26 percent and a lot of homeowners were trying to take advantage of that before the end of the year.”

While the 80 panels is a massive undertaking SWT Energy says it will take about seven to 10 years to get a return on investment.

LES says that solar energy use in Lincoln doesn’t stack up to bigger coastal cities but we are using it more than other Midwest cities.

“Compared to other states in our region the number of systems is pretty good,” said Marc Shkolnick the manager of energy services with LES said.

LES has a program that allows people who don’t have anywhere to install a panel to purchase one of theirs.

“It allows customers to receive the energy credit on their bill every month through our solar farm out in west Lincoln,” said Shkolnick.