The Darlington Community School District kicked off the month of June with a ribbon-cutting
ceremony in honor of its solar electric system installed late last year and energized this winter.The 156 kilowatt array atop the elementary-middle school is, according to RENEW’s project data base, the largest photovoltaic array serving a public school system in the state.

A southwest Wisconsin community with a population of nearly 2,500, Darlington is the seat of government in Lafayette County. There are about 800 students enrolled in the school district.

Under blazing sunshine and a cobalt blue sky, RENEW’s Michael Vickerman presented a plaque to Darlington School Board president Aaron Wolfe honoring the district’s achievement in becoming “the largest solar electricity producer of any K-12 school district in Wisconsin.”

Vickerman said: “We are delighted to present this award to you not only to recognize your great achievement with this solar installation, but also to inspire other school districts in Wisconsin to equal or surpass what you’ve accomplished here in Darlington.”

Consisting of 510 panels expected to generate 200,000 kilowatt-hours/year, Darlington’s array is sized to supply 25% of the electricity consumed at both the high school and the neighboring elementary school. The school district expects to save about $11,500 annually in electricity costs.

Working closely with Madison solar consultant Niels Wolter, the school district obtained a $63,000 renewable energy incentive from Focus on Energy and a $61,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program. Midwest-based solar investors also provided funding for the installation.

The district also received Hoffman’s 2016 TPM ™ sustainability award from Mark Hanson, Director of Sustainable Services, with Appleton-based Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction, Inc., which provided solar planning services.

After the ribbon was cut, Lee Black, the district’s buildings and grounds manager, shepherded a group up to the roof to view the installation and answer questions.

For more information on the Darlington Solar Education Project, visit their website here.

Real-time monitoring information from the Darlington array can be accessed here.