On Saturday, April 15, the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library held a solar dedication ceremony for their 32-kilowatt, newly constructed solar array. Scenically located on the Mississippi River and the bluffs of the Driftless Region, the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library is dedicated to serving the rural communities of Trempealeau by offering free and equitable access to lifelong learning and enrichment.

The project, installed by Ethos Green Power, consists of 60 solar panels and is projected to offset 100% of the library’s electric needs. “This investment will save thousands in tax dollars that can be repurposed for other community needs,” said Alicia Leinberger of Ethos Green Power Cooperative. “In just a few years, the savings will offset the initial investment, providing decades of free electricity harvesting sunshine on the library roof.”

The library received over $83,000 in grants and incentives to install this solar array. Among these, the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library received an EBSCO Solar Grant, a program that funds library solar installations.

The Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library was also awarded a panel grant from Solar for Good, an initiative provided by RENEW Wisconsin and the Couillard Solar Foundation to expand solar power within the state. The grant provided 30 of the 60 solar modules necessary for the project. “The solar grants and incentives we received will help the library purchase less power generated by fossil fuels, allowing our library to be financially and environmentally sustainable, all while acting as a catalyst to inspire change in the community,” said Jessica Schoonover, Library Director.

The library has laid out several opportunities for the community to interact with and be inspired by this solar array. “The very visible solar panels and the monitoring available on the website make it easy for the public to get curious,” continued Leinberger.

This solar installation will be an example to the Trempealeau community, showing its residents the economic and environmental benefits of adopting sustainable practices. It is just one aspect of a new initiative the library is adopting called SWML Renew, aimed at beginning sustainable, energy-conserving changes to its footprint. “We are working on doing our part to develop, model, educate, and encourage our community to live mindfully of our environment,” continued Schoonover. “We hope to encourage our neighbors to consider energy-efficient ways they can Renew their homes and businesses to make a more resilient future for Trempealeau.”