Clean Energy Works Profile – Sam Lammers

Clean Energy Works Profile – Sam Lammers

Sam Lammers entered the renewable energy industry a little over a year ago but has already taken on a leadership role at Arch Solar as the DC Crew Lead. The Wisconsin native was raised in Sheboygan and until recently, she worked in the nearby Washington and Waukesha Counties as an Invasive Species Coordinator and also Conservation Warden for the Department of Natural Resources.

“…sustainability and conservation have always been a passion of mine,” Lammers said.

Lammers went to school at UW – Green Bay where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in environmental policy and planning. Her passions, however, extend beyond the environment. Lammers is also the owner of her yoga studio and it was through one of her clients that she learned about Arch Solar.

“Actually finding Arch Solar came as kind of an accident, I was having breakfast with one of my yoga clients,” Lammers said. “I actually own a yoga studio, and she was telling me about her job and how I would be a really good fit for it. She asked me if it’s something I would be interested in and if I would check out.”

Lammers quickly learned how right her client was. She has found the work rewarding and just shortly after her one-year anniversary, Lammers is already looking for ways to grow in her role. Within the next year, she hopes to be a part of the electrician apprenticeship program.

“I absolutely love the opportunities I get at the job,” Lammers said. “The role is always kind of growing and adapting, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Among the many things Lammers enjoys about her work is working with customers and generally educating the public about the work she does. Lammers said that when she gets on a job site she enjoys the opportunity to not only ease the minds of customers but help them realize their sustainability goals.

“I believe in all forms of sustainability and the renewable industry,” Lammers said. She added that she loves being able to bring her passion for being outside while working hard in a role within the renewable energy industry.

And though she has a deep appreciation for her role in the industry and the team she works with, the position is not without some challenges.

“I would say my biggest challenge, just being almost a decade older than most of the guys I work with on the roof, is just kind of the physical demand of the job,” Lammers said. She noted that there are days she doesn’t feel like getting on a roof, but she reminds herself how great it is to get to work outside. Good teamwork is essential when regulary working on roofs. As Lammers noted she has a fabulous team that trusts each other and has each other’s backs.

“I appreciate the wide variety of individuals that I get to work with in the renewables industry,” Lammers said. “The field crews, office staff, salespersons, and customers all bring their own experiences, expertise, and questions to every job we do and it’s incredible being able to learn from everyone involved. The renewables industry is an ever-growing field and there is always something new and exciting to learn about or adapt to our practices on the roof.”

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.

Supporting Solar Access for Wisconsin’s Low- and Moderate-Income Families

Supporting Solar Access for Wisconsin’s Low- and Moderate-Income Families

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the recipients of the Solar for All grants, with $124 million in funding awarded to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Midwest Tribal Energy Resources Association (MTERA). This influx of resources will help to accelerate our state’s clean energy transition.

Solar for All will increase access to renewable energy for around 15,000 Wisconsin homes, including single-family, multi-family, or community solar projects. The grant awarded to WEDC will bring $62,450,000 to the state of Wisconsin, this historic investment will increase solar access for Wisconsinites across both rural and urban communities.

This down payment on our state’s clean economy signals a new day for renewable energy solutions for all Wisconsinites. RENEW applauds this critical step toward increased solar access and how it ensures every community can participate and benefit from clean energy. Communities across the state will experience reduced reliance on fossil fuels and expanded clean energy job creation as we build a healthier, more equitable clean energy future.

More on Solar for All:

• The Solar for All competition, which was created by the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), will expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged homes primed for residential solar investment.

• Wisconsin is one of 60 states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and eligible nonprofits awarded grants to create and expand low-income solar programs that provide financing and technical assistance, such as workforce development, to enable low-income and disadvantaged households and communities to deploy and benefit from residential solar.

• The Solar for All competition will provide more than $7 billion nationwide to increase access to affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy for millions of low-income households.

RENEW congratulates Governor Tony Evers, WEDC, and MTERA on their work to ensure our state continues to bring renewable energy commitments to our state. This funding will help advance environmental justice efforts by enabling low-income households to access clean, resilient solar power, lowering energy costs, and creating good jobs in underserved areas. 


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.

UW-Health Unveils Wisconsin’s Largest Solar PV Parking Canopy

UW-Health Unveils Wisconsin’s Largest Solar PV Parking Canopy

Rarely does one experience a solar-themed celebration inside a large parking garage at an active construction site, but that didn’t stop UW-Health from throwing the symbolic switch to activate a recently installed 1.1 MW solar electric parking deck at UW-Health’s Eastpark Medical Center campus. The Eastpark Medical Center is scheduled to open in fall 2024.

Under a cloudless sky, luminaries such as Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and State Senator Melissa Agard joined project partners and invited guests to hear UW-Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan, UW-Health senior vice president Katrina Lambrecht, and RENEW’s Michael Vickerman hail the many benefits provided by the gleaming structure above their heads. Images of the parking canopy can be accessed through the WKOW-TV news story filed later that day.

The Eastpark photovoltaic (PV) canopy, consisting of 2,064 panels, should produce enough electricity to power the proton therapy center planned for that location. The array is expected to produce approximately 1,260,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, equating to the annual consumption of about 200 typical Dane County households.

The deck also serves as a cover that prevents rain, snow, and ice from penetrating the space inside, preventing potentially hazardous footing for patients and staff alike. Underneath the panels, a network of pipes will channel rain and melting snow from the array and transport the water into Madison’s storm sewer system.

In his remarks, Vickerman called attention to the array’s design. “You can site a lot of solar power on rooftops and other impervious surfaces if you plan for it from the get-go,” Vickerman said. “This particular application of solar energy doubles as an urban design feature whose footprint can fit entirely within a larger structure.”

At its February 2024 annual summit, RENEW presented a Clean Energy Honor Roll award to UW-Health and its project partners–SunPeak and Staff Electric–for envisioning, designing, and constructing the largest solar-powered parking deck in Wisconsin. The Eastpark PV canopy was one of 13 installations or initiatives to receive such honors this year.