On Saturday, April 27, the Antigo Public Library marked a historic milestone with a solar dedication ceremony, celebrating the installation of a solar array that sets a new standard for green initiatives in the community. Established in 1903, the Antigo Public Library serves all of Langlade County and its 20,000 residents.

The installation of solar panels aligns with the library’s mission to provide educational opportunities and promote sustainable practices. As the first public facility within 60 miles to feature solar energy, the Antigo Public Library will offer tours to community groups and area schools, showcasing the technology and its benefits. Their website will also display real-time energy generation and usage, furthering public awareness and education.

The library has consistently worked to reduce its carbon footprint, switching to LED lighting in 2018 and upgrading the HVAC system to digital controls in 2021. The 87-kilowatt (kW) solar array, installed by Northwind Solar, will generate 91,934 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.

The solar project was primarily financed through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Energy Innovation Grant Program, which awarded the library $230,000 covering 75% of project costs. The library also received a $10,000 grant from Solar for Good, further supporting this initiative. 

This project not only underscores the library’s commitment to sustainability but also serves as an educational tool for the community. The $8,000 annual savings on electricity costs will be reinvested into library programming and services, including public tours of the facility. 

Former Library Director Dominic Frandup highlighted the importance of this project, noting that rising operational costs made it imperative to explore sustainable solutions. “Investing in solar energy emerged as a strategic decision, an investment in both the library’s future and the community’s sustainability. By reducing our reliance on conventional energy sources, the library saves utility expenses, which frees up resources to enhance essential services and programs for our patrons.”

The Antigo Public Library’s solar project represents a groundbreaking effort in the region, highlighting the library’s role as a leader in sustainability and innovation. By integrating solar energy, the library not only reduces its environmental impact but also provides a practical example of renewable energy in action for the community. This initiative underscores the library’s commitment to advancing educational opportunities and promoting environmental stewardship.