The Lincoln Electric System introduced its first solar-powered charging bench in Holmes Park on Tuesday afternoon.
The utility purchased the bench, along with four solar-powered mobile charging stations, using the savings realized by customers switching to paperless billing, said LES spokeswoman Kelley Porter.
LES promised customers it would set aside its first year of savings to purchase the solar-powered charging equipment and also donate trees to Lincoln parks, CEO Kevin Wailes said.
“We had to think of ways to get people to subscribe to paperless billing,” he said.
The paperless billing campaign was introduced last July. The company saves money by not printing bills, printing and purchasing envelopes and the cost of postage, Porter said.
The solar-powered charging bench sits on the playground on the north side of Holmes Lake and has four AC outlets and 24 USB ports. People can bring their own charging cords and charge cellphones, laptops, tablets or even electric wheelchairs.
LES has installed one of the four mobile charging stations at Haymarket Park, down the left-field line, Porter said. The stations can charge both Apple and Android phones and have about a four-hour charge time.
LES will maintain the benches and stands, she said. The company is also scouting out a location to put a second bench.
LES has saved $100,000 from the paperless billing campaign, and the solar-powered equipment cost $34,000.
The company will also donate $7,500 to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation’s Two for Trees program, which allows customers of the Lincoln Water System to add $2 to their bill to help plant trees.
The trees will be planted across the city, Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said, with the first tree planted at Holmes Park.
The remainder of the $100,000 LES savings will be reinvested into the city-owned utility, Porter said.