Full “STEAM” Ahead: Visit Sheboygan STEAM Completes 19.5- kW Solar Array

Full “STEAM” Ahead: Visit Sheboygan STEAM Completes 19.5- kW Solar Array

On Thursday, March 23, Visit Sheboygan STEAM held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their 19.5-kilowatt solar array. Visit Sheboygan STEAM is a nonprofit organization that provides innovative science, technology, and urban ecology education.

The project, installed by Arch Solar, consists of 52 solar panels and is projected to offset approximately 28% of the building’s electrical needs and 56% of Visit Sheboygan STEAM’s production. “We had a blast working with Visit Sheboygan STEAM on their solar installation,” said Andrew Holmstrom at Arch Solar. “Installing on such a river-visible location, in downtown Sheboygan, meant a lot of Arch.”

Visit Sheboygan STEAM’s provides environmental and urban ecology education, and those involved with the STEAM program are excited by the solar installation’s educational opportunities. “The mission of our organization includes environmentally focused STEAM education, and this project will help us facilitate a new line of programming featuring photovoltaics and renewable energy,” said Kathy Cannistra, Program Developer at Visit Sheboygan STEAM.

As a popular destination among locals and tourists, Visit Sheboygan STEAM’s solar installation is a role model for similar organizations to follow in their footsteps. “All of Sheboygan County is in the early adoption stages of solar, so influential organizations paving the way are crucial in its development,” continued Holmstrom. “As time goes on, and the STEAM program grows, we’re looking forward to getting involved and providing education to the leaders of tomorrow on clean energy.”

This project was primarily funded by the organization’s existing donor base and business sponsors. In addition, RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program provided Visit Sheboygan STEAM with a $5,000 grant to assist with the upfront cost of the solar array.

“Environmental stewardship and education are core to our mission,” continued Cannistra. “Therefore, we are thrilled that this solar project has helped reduce the energy-related costs of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) programming while simultaneously demonstrating that solar power can be effective in our climate and region.”

Solar for Seniors: Sheboygan Senior Community Now Home to 198-kW Array

Solar for Seniors: Sheboygan Senior Community Now Home to 198-kW Array

On Tuesday, March 21, Sheboygan Senior Community (SSC), Inc. held a solar dedication ceremony for their 198-kilowatt, newly constructed solar array. Sheboygan Senior Community is a faith-based, nonprofit continuum of care facility providing respite, short-term rehab, assisted living, skilled nursing, and end-of-life services.

The project, installed by Arch Electric, consists of 448 solar panels and will produce roughly 267,000 kWh of annual energy. It is projected to offset over 28% of the organization’s current consumption. Unlike many other solar projects, Sheboygan Senior Community’s array was installed as a ground mount on approximately 1.5 acres.

“What sets the Sheboygan Senior Community Project apart from any other commercial solar project in Wisconsin is the battery or energy storage system,” says Keith Conway, Energy Consultant at Arch Solar. “This system is designed to shave peak demand charges from the utility, thus reducing their monthly electric bill. The SSC is setting an example of what is possible to the rest of the state.”

This project was brought to fruition largely due to a generous commercial benefactor, who provided 95% of the funding for the senior community’s project. The organization worked with Legacy Solar Cooperative to secure this funding. By using a private investor, they were able to utilize the 26% Investment Tax Credit which was unavailable to not-for-profit organizations before the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Legacy Solar Cooperative has been very pleased to work with everyone on this wonderful project. It does indeed take a village,” says Tony Hartman, Director of Business Development at Legacy Solar Cooperative. “SSC’s leadership team especially made this project a joy, from start to finish, showing consideration for their neighbors as well as campus residents.” In addition to facilitating the financial arrangement, the cooperative provided consulting services, education, and outreach assistance.

The Sheboygan Senior Community also received a panel grant from RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program. The grant provided 150 of the 448 solar modules necessary for the project. “SSC, Wisconsin’s Office of Energy Innovation Grant Program, the Couillard Solar Foundation, Arch Solar, and key local support brought this fantastic clean energy and battery project to life, demonstrating patience through the pandemic period,” continued Hartman.

“Renewable energy is not only the right thing to do for the environment and our community, but it provides SSC with the opportunity to enjoy substantially lower utility bills for years to come,” says Stephanie Goetz, Director of Operations at Sheboygan Senior Community. “These savings will go towards expanding our campus to continue filling the needs in our community for senior living services. Our hope is that our Solar for Seniors project can be used as an example for other healthcare nonprofit organizations.”

Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter Now “Paw”ered by the Sun

Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter Now “Paw”ered by the Sun

On Tuesday, March 14th, Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their 23-kilowatt, newly constructed solar array. Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter is a non-for-profit organization that provides quality care for companion animals in need and educates the community about responsible pet ownership.

The project, installed by Olson Solar, consists of 54 solar panels and will produce over 24,000 kWh of annual energy. It is projected to offset approximately 97% of the animal shelter’s consumption.

This project marked Olson Solar’s first array to be installed on an animal shelter. “With an expected lifespan of 35-40 years, their system will produce more than $100,000 in energy savings,” said Michael Palen of Olson Solar Energy. “The clean renewable energy produced by their system is equivalent to saving over 46,000 gallons of gas!”

The decision to invest in the future of their shelter with solar was made possible due to a generous donation made in late 2021. This donation, coupled with the shelter’s continued increases in energy consumption, presented an opportune time to “go solar”.

“Anything we can do to reduce our operating costs is an example to all who support us that we are doing our part by investing wisely in our animal shelter,” said David Ralph, board member of Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter.

In addition to the donation, RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program provided Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter with a $5,000 grant to assist with the upfront costs of the solar array. The project also received funding assistance through Focus on Energy incentives.

“Renewable energy projects like these can be a huge help to the community,” said Sam Dunaiski, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin. “Rivers and Bluffs will be able to take the money saved on their utility bills and immediately redirect it into caring for animals in the community.”

Over $1 Million in Renewable Energy Projects Spurred by Solar for Good Grants

Over $1 Million in Renewable Energy Projects Spurred by Solar for Good Grants

MADISON, WI – The Solar for Good grant program has awarded over $120,000 in grants and solar panel donations to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations. Thirteen nonprofits will install approximately 460 kilowatts of solar electricity, leading to more than $1.2 million in renewable energy investments in Wisconsin.

The following organizations have been offered Fall 2022 Solar for Good grants to install new solar energy systems: 

Chequamegon Humane Association animal shelter, Ashland
Cinnaire Solutions – affordable housing, Lac du Flambeau
Clyde Community Center – community service, Avoca
Friends of Sauk Prairie Parks & Recreation – community service, Prairie du Sac
Harry and Rose Samson Family JCC – religious, Mequon
Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls – religious, Pigeon Falls
People’s United Methodist Church – religious, Oregon
Racine Dominican Eco-Justice Center – community service, Racine
Rotary Club of Greater Portage County – community service, Stevens Point
Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library – community service, Trempealeau
St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church – religious, Madison
WAFER Food Pantry – meal distribution, La Crosse
* One organization has asked to remain anonymous at this time.

The nonprofit grant recipients from the Fall 2022 round represent a wide range of organizations across Wisconsin. Cinnaire Solutions, an affordable housing provider, will install 100 kilowatts of solar at their Forest Edge development in Lac du Flambeau, which will directly provide energy to 40 low-income tenants. The Rotary Club of Portage County is working with students from Mid-State Technical College to install a 7-kilowatt solar system on top of the Salvation Army Hope Center in Stevens Point. And the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library will install 60 solar panels at the public library in Trempealeau.

“The Solar for Good grant is a transformative addition to this project,” stated Elizabeth Rask of Cinnaire Solutions. “Solar infrastructure is rarely included in affordable housing developments due to cost. With Solar for Good’s support, we will be able to install photovoltaic infrastructure, which will reduce the cost to residents and ensure long-term sustainability.”

The main stipulation of the grant requires each organization to highlight its solar project in the community and educate its members about the benefits of renewable energy.

This project is a true community collaboration involving the Rotary Club of Greater Portage County, the Salvation Army, Mid-State Technical College, the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, and the local community of professional solar installers,” said Ben Nusz of the Rotary Club of Portage County. “The completed installation will leave a lasting impact on an organization in great need.”

The 13 nonprofits are a part of Solar for Good’s 11th round of funding. The program has offered solar grants to 161 Wisconsin-based nonprofits since it began in 2017. When all projects are complete and energized, Solar for Good grant recipients will add over 7.6 megawatts of renewable energy to Wisconsin’s electric grid, providing enough electricity to power approximately 1,600 Wisconsin households.

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About Solar for Good RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative fosters the expansion of solar power among mission-based nonprofits and houses of worship in Wisconsin. Through a generous partnership with Couillard Solar Foundation, RENEW Wisconsin awards grants and solar panels to nonprofit organizations, helping them switch to clean, renewable, solar energy.

About RENEW Wisconsin RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, geothermal energy, and electric vehicles. www.renewwisconsin.org.

About Couillard Solar Foundation the Couillard Solar Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to further the urgent path to decarbonization for Wisconsin and create a cleaner, safer environment for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status. The Couillard Solar Foundation helps schools and nonprofits gain vital access to solar power by providing solar panels, programs, and education through the Solar for Good and Solar on Schools grant programs. For more information, please visit www.CouillardSolarFoundation.org

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

Last weekend, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted the 31st Annual Energy Fair, bringing people together to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. The Fair featured workshops, exhibitors, live music, inspiring keynote speakers, family fun, great local food, and more. 

RENEW staff presented some compelling workshops and you can download slides from their presentations below.

A Zero-Carbon Grid – How We Get There

Andrew Kell, RENEW Policy Analyst, discussed zero-carbon goals and ongoing planning efforts in Wisconsin. Andrew also discussed a joint study to address policy considerations of this clean energy transition.

Health Benefits of Electric Vehicle Adoption

Christina Zordani, Electric Vehicle Policy Intern at RENEW, discussed a Wisconsin with 100% clean-power electric vehicle adoption. In this workshop, attendees learned how a renewable-powered transportation network would bring significant economic and health benefits to Wisconsin.

Vehicle-to-Grid: Opportunities and Challenges

Francisco Sayu, RENEW Emerging Technology Director, discussed how Vehicle-to-Grid technology unlocks the energy stored in electric vehicles and opens opportunities for energy trading, energy management, and grid resiliency. The workshop delved into two case studies.

Energy Policy and Politics in Wisconsin

 Jim Boullion, RENEW Government Affairs Director, reviewed the busiest legislative session for energy-related issues in many years, including solar financing, community solar, and electric vehicle rules. 

Small Solar Farms in Wisconsin – Why More Are Needed

Michael Vickerman, RENEW Policy Director, discussed initiatives to expand Wisconsin’s solar marketplace’s middle tier: offsite arrays serving groups of self-selecting customers or whole communities across Wisconsin.

A Clean Energy Toolkit for Local Governments

Sam Dunaiski, RENEW Resources Director, discussed towns, cities, and counties in WI that are building the clean energy economy. By investing in renewables, WI communities are reducing carbon emissions, investing locally, and creating energy independence.

Over $6.3 Million in Renewable Energy Projects Spurred by “Solar for Good” Grants

Over $6.3 Million in Renewable Energy Projects Spurred by “Solar for Good” Grants

MADISON, WI – The Solar for Good grant program has awarded over $450,000 in grants and solar panel donations to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations. Thirty-five nonprofits will install over 2,200 kilowatts of solar electricity, leading to more than $6 million in renewable energy investments in Wisconsin.

The following organizations have been offered Spring 2022 Solar for Good grants to install new solar energy systems:

Agrace HospiceCare – health care, Janesville
Albany Lions Club – community services, Albany
Aldo Leopold Foundation – conservation, Baraboo
Antigo Public Library – community services, Antigo
City of Altoona – affordable housing, Altoona
Couleecap – community services, Westby
Curative Connections – human services, Green Bay
Dane County Humane Society’s Wildlife Center – conservation, Madison
Edgerton Retirement Apartments – affordable housing, Edgerton
Emmanuel Community United Methodist Church – religious, Menomonee Falls
Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO) – human services, Racine
Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum – conservation, Kenosha
Hunger Task Force – meal distribution, West Milwaukee
Lawrence University – education, Baileys Harbor
Madison Area Cooperative Housing Alliance (MACHA) – affordable housing, Madison
McFarland Lutheran Church – religious, McFarland
Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) – education, Milwaukee
Movin’ Out – affordable housing, Cottage Grove
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church – religious, Trempealeau
Northwest Side Community Development Corp – community development, Milwaukee
Outreach Community Health Center – health care, Milwaukee
Racine County Food Bank – meal distribution, Racine
Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter – animal shelter, Prairie du Chien
Rooted – agriculture, Madison
Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program – community services, Dodgeville
St. Mary Parish – religious, Omro
St. Robert Parish – religious, Shorewood
Tina’s K9 Rescue – animal shelter, Sparta
Trinity Episcopal Church – religious, Baraboo
Union Congregational United Church of Christ – religious, Green Bay
Vernon Economic Development Association – community services, Viroqua
Westcare Wisconsin – human services, Milwaukee
Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp – affordable housing, Madison
Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve – conservation, Two Rivers
*One organization has asked to remain anonymous at this time.

The grant recipients from the Spring 2022 round represent various sizes and types of nonprofits from across Wisconsin. Curative Connections, an organization that provides services to older adults with disabilities, will install a 280-kW ground-mounted solar array to offset nearly half of their electricity use. Over 80 solar panels will be installed on the rooftop of Outreach Community Health Center in Milwaukee to provide electricity for their medical, dental, and podiatry services. And Couleecap, an organization that works to fight poverty, will install two solar arrays at low-income housing facilities, directly offsetting the electricity use of their tenants.

“Without the Solar for Good Program, it would be difficult for low-income households to participate in solar programs that reduce energy costs and benefit their community,” says Hetti Brown, Executive Director of Couleecap. “The program is an important tool in our effort to reduce energy poverty for the rural residents of Wisconsin.”

Each organization agrees to highlight their solar project and provide education to their community about the benefits of solar energy as a requirement of their grant award.

“There are no publicly available solar installations within Langlade County, and we can offer tours for school children and the public,” said Dominic Frandrup, Director of the Antigo Public Library. “The long-term vision of the library is to also offer EV charging for downtown revitalization and eventually have an EV bookmobile to replace our gasoline van.

The 35 nonprofits are a part of Solar for Good’s 10th round of funding. The program has offered solar grants to 152 Wisconsin-based nonprofits since it began in 2017. Once projects are complete and energized, Solar for Good grant recipients will add over 7.3 megawatts of renewable energy to Wisconsin’s electric grid, providing enough electricity to power approximately 1,400 Wisconsin households.

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About Solar for Good RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative fosters the expansion of solar power among mission-based nonprofits and houses of worship in Wisconsin. Through a generous partnership with Couillard Solar Foundation, RENEW Wisconsin awards grants and solar panels to nonprofit organizations, helping them switch to clean, renewable, solar energy.
About Couillard Solar Foundation The Couillard Solar Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit and our mission is to further the urgent path to decarbonization for Wisconsin, and create a cleaner, safer environment for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status. We help schools and nonprofits gain vital access to solar power, by providing solar panels, programs and education through the Solar for Good and Solar on Schools grant programs. For more information please visit www.CouillardSolarFoundation.org or follow on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.