Lisbon finishing major solar project

LISBON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Friday, as people soaked up the fun at this year's annual Lisbon Sauerkraut Days, about a block away-- a new feature on City Hall soaked up the sun.

Officials will have the solar canopy up and running in a month's time, capping off the final piece of a year-long project. (Forrest Saunders/KCRG)

"We wanted something unique,” said Connie Meier, Lisbon’s city administrator. “Something a little different. Something that would go with the building."

Something like the solar canopy installed on City Hall’s southern facing wall in the last couple days. Officials will have it up and running in a month's time, capping off the final piece in a year-long project.

In an effort to go green, the town placed panels at three additional locations; the library, the city's maintenance department and the base of Lisbon's water tower.

Meier said the idea popped up after reworking city code to allow a resident to install some solar panels.

"We got to thinking,” Meier said, “when he was doing the solar that it would be a good idea for the city to do something also."

Red Lion Renewables of Norwalk is handling the install of all the panels. The company’s CEO and founder Terry Dvorak said one of the best perks, the town paid absolutely nothing to install the panels. The company and its investors own them.

Instead, Lisbon pays a reduced monthly rate on the power generated.

"Sunny months, they'll pay more in kilowatt hours than cloudy months,” said Dvorak. “They have no risk. They don't have to maintain it. Our investors and we do."

Dvorak estimated once everything is complete and running, Lisbon will save around $7,000 annually. That's a lot to a community that spends only about $2 million each year.

"With that money, we can use it for other projects,” said Meier. “We can use it to plant more trees in town. We can use it for sewer and water repairs or street repairs."