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U.S.DOE SunShot Rooftop Challenge - "GROW SOLAR WISCONSIN"

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Introduction to Grow Solar Wisconsin, Sun Shot Program
February 2012

The Grow Solar Wisconsin Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program.  SunShot is based on John F. Kennedy’s MoonShot Program.

In 1962, JKF challenged the country to “before the decade’s end, landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”.  He wanted the country to pursue his goals  “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”.  MoonShot successfully landed a man on the moon in July 1969.

SunShot’s goal is to reduce the cost of solar electric (also known as photovoltaic or PV) systems by roughly 75% to $1 per watt before the decade’s end.  At this price, a solar electric system capable of supplying the power needs of a Wisconsin home, for 25 to 50 years, would cost under $5000. The SunShot program foresees solar electric systems meeting 15% of nation’s power needs by 2030.

The SunShot program is actively striving to reduce all system costs:

  • Hard cost, from every component and subcomponent while increasing system life
  • Installation and maintenance costs
  • Soft cost related to state, and local government’s, and utility company’s, rules, standards, processes and policies.

The Grow Solar Wisconsin team is funded to reduce the soft costs first in Wisconsin and then across the region.  Soft costs account for 25% to 50% of residential solar electric system’s price.

Specifically the Grow Solar Team will work toward fair, uniform, streamlined and efficient:

  • City and municipality permitting
  • Connection to the electric utility’s grid
  • Net energy metering policies (which allows system owners to offset their electric bill by supplying power to the grid)
  • Models for solar zoning and planning documents
  • Proposals for solar ready home and building checklists

The Team will also work to:

  • Demonstrate new deployment models using group system purchase and low interest loans
  • Permit third party ownership and leasing
  • Allow utilities to offer ownership shares in solar electric systems to their customers
  • Encourage electric utilities to allow virtual net metering (customers with multiple meters, offset solar generation at one meter with consumption at another meter)

The Grow Solar Wisconsin works closely with the Wisconsin Distributed Resources Collaborative, Wisconsin’s State Energy Office, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, UW Extension, the Wisconsin Solar Industries Association, Madison Gas and Electric, We Energies and Marshfield Utilities.

The Team’s out reach activities will include a new website and an annual conference.

Project Work Areas

  • Third Party Ownership Issues
  • Net Energy Billing
  • Interconnection Standards

Other RENEW Initiatives


The Grow Solar Wisconsin Team is initially funded through February 2013.  The Team includes: the Cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Marshfield; renewable not for profit groups the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and Renew Wisconsin; and consulting firms with over fifty years of relevant experience L&S Technical Associates, Madison Solar Consulting and The Sustainable Resources Group. 

Other Info. . . .

For more information contact Nick Hylla Executive Director MREA,, or Niels Wolter Madison Solar Consulting

Solar electric systems:

  • Operate silently;
  • Generate no emissions;
  • Use no fossil fuels;
  • Provide power during daylight hours when it is most valuable;
  • Are well suited for unused urban rooftops;
  • Generate power where it is consumed.

These traits support:

  • Energy independence,
  • Self sufficiency,
  • A healthy environment,
  • Good jobs for system installers, dealers and engineers.

New York Times Blog on SunShot Soft Cost program.