On Friday, June 15, RENEW Wisconsin joined Madison Area Cooperative Housing Alliance (MACHA) to celebrate the completion of their 14.4-kilowatt solar array, made possible in part by MadiSUN Backyard Solar and Solar for Good grants. MACHA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote resilience and equity in the Madison area by supporting the continuation and creation of cooperative housing.

This solar system was installed by Full Spectrum Solar and is projected to offset 97% of the building’s electricity usage for Perennial Co-op’s 11-person house, ensuring long-term affordability for its residents. The cooperative house will benefit from reduced utility bills by leveraging solar energy.

The installation was made possible through the support of several grants and incentives. The MadiSUN Backyard Grant, a program that awards grants to Madison-based nonprofits, awarded MACHA $9,725. In addition, MACHA also received a grant from Solar for Good, a program whose mission is to foster solar expansion among Wisconsin nonprofits. MACHA also received funding from Focus on Energy and loan support from Greenpenny.

The completion of this solar array comes at a critical time within the Madison housing market. “With housing costs in Madison increasing, more and more people are priced out of the housing market,” said Steve Vig, Secretary with MACHA. “Cooperative housing ensures long-term affordability, as does the transition to renewable energy infrastructure such as solar. Perennial Co-op sets an example for long-term affordability, climate-resiliency, and multi-generational living.”

Madison Cooperative Housing Alliance plans to use Perennial Co-op’s solar array as an example that other similar organizations can replicate. “We hope that Perennial Co-op’s new solar array can serve as a model for other cooperative houses in Madison,” said Gabrielle Hinahara, MACHA Board Member. “MACHA would be excited to collaborate with more co-op houses interested in installing solar. These projects are a win-win because they contribute to our community’s environmental sustainability and provide long-term financial sustainability for our cooperative houses, which often house residents with modest incomes.”

The completion of this solar array marks a significant milestone for promoting resilience, affordability, and sustainability in the Madison housing market. With housing costs rising, cooperative housing, coupled with renewable energy infrastructure, presents a solution for long-term affordability and sustainability. With this installation completed, other organizations have a laid-out path to follow suit, fostering an environmentally and economically viable community for Madison residents.