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Solar panel usage trends in metro

Area neighborhoods part of national tour
Posted: 9:46 PM, Oct 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-04 02:46:36Z

Don Preister is what you call energy independent.

"Being energy independent means I'm generating at least as much or at times more electricity than what I'm using," said the Bellevue city councilman.

Preister relies on the sun and his 28-panel solar collector to power his home, placed behind his garden.

Power bill? Gone. And what electricity he produces is actually credited back to him from OPPD. The longtime politician went solar April 2017. He said the $20,000 startup cost is much cheaper than a decade ago. He partially relied on federal incentives. In the meantime, he expects to save at least $2,000 over the next 15 years.

He shows his electric bill for October, which come out to $13.61 credited back to his household.
     
Just north of Bellevue, the University of Nebraska Medical Center is also following this trend.

"When you talk about solar panels, they are cost-effective, they are scalable from small scale to large scale," said Darren Dageforde, executive director of utilities and energy utilization at UNMC.

They're also low-maintenance, he said.

Dageforde says the campus will install nearly 1,500 solar panels on the rooftops of some buildings. He estimates the panels will reduce UNMC's energy use by about one percent. In the next 12 years, it hopes to be net-zero. While there is a cost-saving, the director considers the use of renewable energy as part of the university's approach to health and wellness. 

'We are going to be seeing impacts from carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide - increase in all of these things - [an] increase in health effects on asthma attacks and premature deaths on all those things that affect health and life," he said.

As for Preister, he hopes people remain open-minded to exploring alternative energy sources and will even showcase his home as part of a national tour highlighting solar energy this weekend.

"I'm concerned about our children, our grandchildren, and the future," Preister said. "So my concern is about what we do to the environment."