NEW ULM - The Energy Awareness Commission discussed offering rebates for the construction of solar panels Tuesday at a meeting in the Council Chambers in City Hall.
A presentation on the rebate was given by Energy Service Representative William Swanson, who highlighted the benefits and drawbacks of solar power. He noted that it was one of the cleanest forms of power, but added that the high initial cost of the panels could make the Return On Investment take as long as five to 30 years.
After the presentation, the Commission held a discussion to determine if there was a desire to offer the a rebate for solar energy.
Swanson recommended that, if the Commission went ahead with offering the rebate, there would be conditions for eligibility. He recommended that because of the high cost of the panels, there should be a limited number of rebates given to avoid going over budget. He also recommended that an audit of the proposed location of the panels be done because some locations are not efficient enough to warrant solar panels.
Chairperson Wayne Stolt asked if it would be possible to add the rebate into the 2011 budget.
Utility Planning and Development Engineer Pat Wrase advised the 2011 budget was already set. However, he said he had spoken with Swanson and they had considered the option of moving excess funds in the Capital Investment fund as a possible solution.
Although some commissioners showed approval for the idea, the Commission moved to postpone deliberation on the rebate and to take it up at the next meeting.
The Commission also received an update on the work to implement the Power Cost Monitor Project. The project would offer power monitors that allow the user to determine the power usage of appliances. The intent is to help the user determine power wasters and help cut energy usage.
Swanson said that pilot study results showed that the majority of people that used the monitor saved an average of 9.87 percent on their electric bills over six months. The project was passed on to the next meeting so more tests could be conducted.
Finally, the Commission received an update on several of its programs. Swanson said that the Recycle Your Holidays program was a success and that the city had collected 800 pounds in Christmas lights so far. The program was a recycling drive to collect old or broken Christmas lights. Swanson also said the LED Holiday Lighting Program had been successful. That program offered a rebate to people that purchased energy saving LED Christmas lights,.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)