A Novel Idea: Antigo Public Library’s Solar Project

A Novel Idea: Antigo Public Library’s Solar Project

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.

Powering a Brighter Future at Centro Hispano

Powering a Brighter Future at Centro Hispano

Photo Credit: Hedi Rudd

On Friday, April 26, 2024, Centro Hispano of Dane County, a cornerstone of support and empowerment for the Latinx community in Madison, celebrated a milestone: the installation of a solar array at their new facility on Madison’s south side. Established in 1983 initially to assist Cuban refugees, Centro Hispano has grown into a vital community hub, providing youth programs, family services, and community engagement initiatives.

Centro’s mission is to build a future where Latinx families in Dane County can aspire upward, reaching their goals and dreams because they feel strengthened with the tools for success. As the leading nonprofit organization serving the Latinx population in the county, Centro empowers youth, strengthens families, and fosters community engagement through a wide range of programs.

The decision to install solar panels at their new facility highlights Centro’s commitment to sustainability and community education. The 67.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array, installed by Westphal & Company Inc., comprised of 135 panels, will generate approximately 86,290 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, offsetting 36% of the facility’s energy use. This initiative is part of a broader sustainability strategy, which includes a ground-source heat pump HVAC system to further reduce energy consumption.

The solar project is made possible in part through the Solar for Good and the MadiSUN Backyard Solar Program, emphasizing the importance of equitable access to sustainable systems and fostering conversations about sustainability. This project is an opportunity to make history by demonstrating how equity and sustainability can coexist and thrive together. Centro Hispano’s solar initiative not only showcases its commitment to environmental stewardship but also serves as an educational tool for youth programs, workforce development, and the broader community.

Centro Hispano’s solar project is more than just an effort to reduce energy costs; it represents a significant step towards integrating sustainable practices within communities of color. By harnessing solar power, Centro provides a powerful example of how renewable energy can support and uplift historically underserved populations. The solar array will be used as a teaching tool, offering workshops and educational signage to engage and inform the community.

As Centro Hispano celebrates 40 years of service, the solar initiative marks a significant advancement in its mission to empower Latinx families and strengthen community resilience. By embracing solar energy, Centro is reducing its environmental footprint and setting a precedent for sustainable development and community engagement. This commitment to sustainability ensures that Centro Hispano will continue to be a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come.

A Brighter Future with Solar Energy at Community Partners Campus

A Brighter Future with Solar Energy at Community Partners Campus

On Monday, April 22, 2024, Community Partners Campus (CPC) hosted a solar dedication ceremony to celebrate the completion of their new 142-kilowatt (kW) solar array. This event, which fittingly took place on Earth Day, marked a significant milestone for CPC, a facility dedicated to providing essential services to the most vulnerable residents of the greater Wausau area.

CPC’s mission is to provide a collaborative space for a wide range of human services, offering shared facilities for nonprofit partners dedicated to serving disadvantaged individuals and families. With core programs providing free services related to food, shelter, medical care, mental health, and social well-being, Community Partners Campus plays a crucial role in the community by offering essential services to those in need. 

“As a facility that provides space to seven nonprofits that all provide basic needs services, solar is a great eighth partner, said Tara Glodowski, Executive Director of Community Partners Campus. “On Earth Day, 2024, we dedicated our new system and welcomed the array and the harvest from the sun’s power that it will provide. We look forward to reaping the benefits and being able to keep overhead costs low for our incredible teams that serve the most vulnerable community all under one roof.”

The decision to install solar panels at CPC was driven by the need to keep operational costs low for the seven nonprofits that operate under its roof. The facility, a 25,000-square-foot building, now boasts a 142 kW array that will produce 155,261 kWh of energy annually. This system will offset 29.2% of the campus’s annual energy usage, significantly reducing their energy bills. The solar project was made possible through the support of the Solar for Good grant, which has enabled CPC to maintain below-market rent for their nonprofit partners. This ensures that these organizations can continue to focus on their mission-driven purposes without the burden of high operational costs.

“It was a pleasure to provide clean energy to Community Partners Campus,” said Jordan Kaiser with Northwind Solar. “We’re tremendously grateful to be of service to an organization that does such amazing work in the Wausau community. To play a small part in their overall vision and mission has been a privilege for our company!”

Community Partners Campus’s commitment to sustainability and cost efficiency reflects its dedication to breaking barriers for the people and agencies it serves. By embracing solar energy, CPC not only supports environmental stewardship but also strengthens its ability to provide essential services to the community. This collaborative effort exemplifies how innovative solutions can enhance the impact of nonprofit work, ensuring that everyone has access to basic human needs in a safe and supportive environment.

Solar for Good Powers Up Wisconsin Nonprofits – Provides $280,0000 in Grants

Solar for Good Powers Up Wisconsin Nonprofits – Provides $280,0000 in Grants

More than $280,000 in cash awards and solar panel donations were awarded to 18 Wisconsin nonprofits as part of the 13th round of grant funding for Solar for Good. These awards will lead to the development of 1,600 kilowatts (kW) of solar electricity added to the Wisconsin electric mix and over $4.5 million in renewable energy investments.

Installing solar panels allows this diverse group of nonprofits to prioritize long-term fiscal responsibility, ensuring the sustainability of their institutions. St. Vincent de Paul will utilize their grant to install a 48.1-kW solar array on their new building, allowing them to redirect financial resources back into the core of their mission. West CAP, an organization committed to combatting poverty, will install a 29.76-kW solar array on its newest low-income housing initiative. This installation may potentially eradicate energy costs for their low-income residents. 

“Through our poverty-fighting programs, we want to help prepare families for a world less dependent on fossil-fueled energy,” said Peter H. Kilde, West CAP Executive Director. “This funding will not only allow us to reduce carbon emissions and help our planet, but it will also ease the energy burden for low-income families so they can afford their housing for the long term. We appreciate the support from RENEW Wisconsin and the Couillard Foundation in helping nonprofit communities make this critical transition to solar.”  

In the world of nonprofits, where financial resources are already stretched thin, the idea of adopting solar energy often feels out of reach due to the high upfront costs. Recognizing this financial obstacle, the Solar for Good program aims to alleviate a portion of that financial burden. 

“While our grant does not cover the entire cost of a solar installation, nonprofits receiving our support find themselves in a stronger position to secure additional funding,” said Lauren Cohen, manager of the Solar for Good program. “A Solar for Good grant acts as a valuable leveraging point, opening doors to further support for their solar projects.”

Integrating solar power into St. Vincent de Paul’s operations is a logical step, considering their existing emphasis on sustainability. Operating seven thrift stores and a processing center, they divert thousands of pounds of goods from landfills each month, promoting a green solution for excess items and integrating solar energy to align with their sustainability initiatives.

“We’re grateful to receive a Solar for Good grant to support the cost of solar panels for our new building,” said Julie Bennett, CEO and Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Madison. “The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is proud to increase our sustainable efforts in Dane County. Solar panels are a natural accompaniment to the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ effort that is fundamental to our seven St. Vinny’s Thrift Stores.” 

Since its inception in 2017, Solar for Good has awarded grants to more than 200 Wisconsin nonprofits, resulting in over $16.7 million in clean energy investments across the state. These 18 organizations join a diverse community of nonprofits utilizing solar energy. Solar for Good is thrilled to contribute to their journeys towards enhanced energy efficiency and independence.

The following organizations have been offered Fall 2023 Solar for Good grants to install new solar energy systems:

Agrace Hospice Care – senior living, Madison 
Art Intersection MKE – community service, Milwaukee
Aurora Medical Center Sheboygan County – healthcare, Sheboygan
Catholic Ecology Center – education, Neosho
Hayward Sports Center and Community Park – recreation, Hayward
Immanuel Lutheran Church – religious, Viroqua
Little Turtles Playhouse – community service, Beloit
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design – education, Milwaukee
Monona United Methodist Church – religious, Monona
Ozaukee Nonprofit Center – community service, Grafton
Pittsville Fire Company – community service, Pittsville
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church – religious, Milwaukee
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – religious, Onalaska
Sugar Creek Lutheran Church – religious, Elkhorn
St. Vincent de Paul – community service, Madison
Stoughton United Methodist Church – religious, Stoughton
West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency – affordable housing, Clayton

*One organization has asked to remain anonymous at this time.

Pine Valley Community Village Embraces Solar Energy

Pine Valley Community Village Embraces Solar Energy

On Wednesday, November 2, Pine Valley Community Village, a prominent skilled healthcare, rehabilitation, and assisted living facility located in Richland County, celebrated a significant milestone. The organization completed the installation of its 336-panel solar array.

Pine Valley Community Village marked the successful completion of its solar array project with a solar dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The array is expected to generate more than 5 million kilowatt-hours within the first 25 years and over a half million dollars of savings for the nursing and rehab facility.

“Having solar now on our campus to help offset those electrical costs is significant. It is the perfect complement to our Geothermal system,” said Tom Rislow, Pine Valley Community Village’s Administrator. 

Pine Valley’s decision to go solar was driven by its cost-saving benefits and a desire to reduce the organization’s environmental footprint. In 2016, the facility opted for a geothermal heating and cooling system, which was effective but raised electricity costs due to increased usage. The solar system, installed by Solar Connections, now complements their geothermal system, reducing their dependence on traditional electricity sources and potentially saving up to $18,000 annually.

During the process, Pine Valley benefited from the expertise of Legacy Solar Co-op, a cooperative providing solar and energy efficiency services throughout Wisconsin.

“Legacy Solar Co-op [LSC] started working with Pine Valley Community Village [PVCV] in Richland Center, Wisconsin, back in early 2022 and helped them pursue the best-fit size and location for placing a ground-mounted solar array on Richland County property to generate roughly 17% of their electricity use per year on-site,” said Kurt Reinhold, President, and CEO of Legacy Solar Co-op. “LSC is proud to have helped PVCV succeed in finishing this project!”

Pine Valley Community Village’s commitment to sustainability and clean energy received a significant boost through the support of generous donors and the Solar for Good program. Key supporters Ray & Sylvia Schmitz and Bob Simpson played a vital role in the project’s fundraising plan. Pine Valley Community Village also received a Solar for Good grant, providing them with 150 of the 336 panels necessary for the solar array.

“It couldn’t have been possible without several contributions,” said Rislow. “Starting with our qualifying to receive 150 solar panels free through the Solar for Good program, getting a Focus on Energy grant, receiving generous donations from two local businessmen, and the likelihood of receiving additional funds through a program within the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Pine Valley Community Village’s commitment to clean energy reflects its values and showcases Richland County’s dedication to environmentally responsible operations. The project not only supports sustainability but is also expected to substantially reduce the facility’s electrical expenses for years to come.

Powering Change: Temple Beth El’s Solar Energy Journey

Powering Change: Temple Beth El’s Solar Energy Journey

On Friday, October 13, Temple Beth El, a progressive Reform synagogue located in Madison, set a remarkable example by installing a 102-kilowatt solar array. Full Spectrum Solar installed the array, which is expected to save the synagogue approximately $12,000 annually.

The array will offset 31.5% of their projected annual energy consumption, contributing significantly to their sustainability goals, which are aligned with aspects of their overall mission. For more than 84 years, Temple Beth El has remained dedicated to its vision to create and sustain a vibrant, inclusive, and engaged community that connects individuals from all walks of Reform Jewish.

Affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, Temple Beth is the sole Reform Jewish congregation in Madison, providing a welcoming haven for Jewish people to come together and fulfill their spiritual, educational, ethical, social, and emotional needs and expectations.

The decision to install solar panels was not one that was taken lightly. In 2018, the temple established a task force to review investment priorities for its 75-year-old building. Recognizing that their roof offered an ideal space for solar panels, they made necessary improvements to support the longevity of the installation. This solar initiative serves two crucial goals for their community: reducing their carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels and lowering their energy costs.

The success of this solar initiative was made possible through multiple funding sources. Temple Beth El was a grant recipient of the Solar for Good program, which supplied them with half of the solar panels required for the project. Additional financial assistance came from the Goodman Foundation, which helped offset the costs of the remaining solar panels. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Elective Pay provision, the temple will receive a 30% refund from the federal government, significantly reducing the overall project cost.

The completion of Temple Beth El’s solar array is a testament to their commitment to both environmental sustainability and fiscal responsibility. By harnessing the power of the sun, they are taking strides to reduce their carbon footprint and inspire their community to follow suit. This initiative not only aligns with their vision of inclusivity but also paves the way for a greener and more energy-efficient future.

Temple Beth El’s solar journey serves as a reminder of the importance of collective action to electrify Wisconsin’s energy mix and transition away from fossil fuels. With its newly installed solar array, the organization has not only reduced its carbon footprint but also set a compelling example for others to follow.