Lisbon Considers Solar Panels to Cut Energy Costs

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LISBON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Lisbon is looking at putting solar panels on five or more city buildings. It's a move that could cut the small town's utility bills in half.

The city council is working with Energy Consultants Group to develop a plan to put panels on Lisbon City Hall, the fire department, library, history center and a community building.

Leaders were also looking at putting panels at the sewer treatment plant, which is the city's biggest energy consumer, but shade is making placement a challenge in that area.

"We need to find some alternative way to have the energy," said Lisbon Mayor Beryl O'Connor. "It costs more and more every single day. This is for the future of the community."

When factoring in an anticipated four percent rise in utility rates each year, the city could shave 65% off utility bills.

"Just looking at City Hall alone, it looks like we could save $8,000 a year," said City Administrator Connie Meier. "That money is very important. We have so many projects that we need to look at right now. Mainly, water lines, sewer lines, street repairs."

The project won't likely be cheap, though. Cost for upgrading Lisbon City Hall alone is expected to be more than $100,000.

To pay for the project, the city is looking at a couple options. Buy the equipment itself or have investors purchase the panels, then sell energy back to the city.

"It's usually at half the cost of what you would normally pay," said Meier.

The city council is planning on discussing the solar panels further at their March 28th meeting. The mayor said she's optimistic plans will move forward.

"I don't know if it's 100 percent, but there is a lot of support from the council," said O'Connor. "There's a lot of support from people in town talking about it."