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.”