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Waseca resident investing green, installed solar panel in yard

Solar Panel

For years Kent Olmanson has heated his house and water, using a wood burning oven in his backyard. Recently, he’s installed a solar panel in his yard to generate energy to power his home.

The idea for a solar panel came a few years ago at the Steele County fair, his business’s booth was across from a Green World Solutions booth.

Always inquiring about something new, Olmanson became intrigued and curious about the possibility of using solar energy to power his house.

Green World Solutions came to his house and conducted an assessment that showed how much sunlight his yard gets in relation to how much shade covers his home and yard.

For Olmanson, making energy efficient decisions is not only about helping the environment, but also an investment.

“The solar panel actually appreciates my land value,” Olmanson said. “It’s about economics. You have to invest in things that will save you money.”

His solar panel that is built to withstand two-inch hail and 90 mph winds, came with a 25-year unconditional warranty – at which time Olmanson will be 85.

On his electrical meter, there is an arrow – when it's pointing right, he’s actually producing power the city buys back from him.

Because of a large tree in his yard, Olmanson’s solar panel had to reach a height of 19 feet to get the right amount of sunlight – but because city ordinace only allows a structure of 15 feet, he had to ask the Waseca City Council for a variance.

The panel is constructed in a 12-foot tall pole and from April to September, the array tilt is at 30 degrees and from October to March, that array tilt is at a 45 degree angle, creating an overall height of 19 feet.

In October the City Council granted the variance to Olmanson.

The resolution passed 4 to 3 with councilmembers Clemons, Rose and Christiansen opposing.

When the resolution was brought before the council, three letters of opposition were submitted by neighboring property owners.

 “I think the day is going to come where there is going to be such things everywhere in the country what we haven’t seen before, that we’re going to have to see now,” Mayor Roy Srp said. “Street lights for example, people probably didn’t like to see those at first either. If someone built (a solar panel) next to me, I probably wouldn’t be completely happy about looking at it, but it’s the future and I’m intrigued to see this happening.”

Even on cloudy days Olmanson still produces enough energy to power the lights in his house and if the power goes out, so does his panel – even his backup generator won't power the solar panel because it could potentially interfere with electrical workers trying to fix a power outage.

For Olmanson, the decision to install a solar panel didn’t happen overnight – it was a process that took a few years, but he encourages everyone to look into the possibilities of green energy.

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