RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative fosters the expansion of solar power among mission-based nonprofits and houses of worship in Wisconsin.
Through a generous partnership with the Couillard Solar Foundation, RENEW Wisconsin awards grant-funding or solar panels to nonprofit organizations, helping them switch to clean, renewable, solar energy. In 2020, First Unitarian Society of Madison began contributing grant donations to the program through the Array it Forward initiative. Anyone can contribute to the Array it Forward initiative through the DONATE button below.
RENEW Wisconsin prioritizes organizations that work in the areas of social justice, low-income communities, people of color, children or seniors, rural Wisconsin, education, and new technology or innovation.
Solar for Good celebrates awarded solar projects and helps nonprofit organizations educate their communities about the benefits of solar power. Solar for Good has already helped nearly 200 nonprofits save money on their electric bills that they can reinvest in their missions.
The Spring 2023 application cycle has closed.
The Fall 2023 grant cycle will open on Friday, September 1, 2023. Completed applications for the Fall 2023 grant cycle will be due on Sunday, October 1, 2023.
What does Solar for Good offer?
Applicants can choose to apply for solar panels, solar canopies, or project grants.
SOLAR PANELS: RENEW Wisconsin will administer solar panel donations through the Couillard Solar Foundation. Nonprofits can be awarded up to 50% of the panels required for their solar project, based on system size.
- For solar systems smaller than 100 kilowatts, a nonprofit can be awarded up to 50% of the solar panels required, up to 75 panels* (~$25,000 value).
- For systems 100 kilowatts and larger, a nonprofit can be awarded up to 50% of the solar panels required, up to 150 panels* (~$50,000 value).
- Panel allotment will be allocated as follows:
|FUNDING FOR||MAXIMUM GRANT SIZE|
|Solar arrays 5 – 100 kW||Up to 75 panels* (approximately $25,000 worth of materials)|
|Solar arrays 100 kW and larger||Up to 150 panels* (approximately $50,000 worth of materials)|
*Winning nonprofits will need to budget for shipping expenses for all awarded solar panels to their site or partnering solar contractor’s facility.
PROJECT GRANTS: RENEW Wisconsin will administer grants for solar projects through the Couillard Solar Foundation and the Array it Forward initiative.
- For solar systems smaller than 100 kilowatts, a nonprofit can receive $150 for every 1 kW of solar energy installed, with a maximum award of $10,000.
- For solar systems larger than 100 kilowatts, a nonprofit can receive $150 for every 1 kW of solar energy installed, with a maximum award of $20,000.
- Funds will be allocated as follows:
|FUNDING FOR||MAXIMUM GRANT SIZE|
|Solar arrays 5 – 100 kW||$150 for every 1 kW of solar energy installed, up to $10,000|
|Solar arrays 100 kW and larger||$150 for every 1 kW of solar energy installed, up to $20,000|
- NOTE: Grant funds will be disbursed after completion of your solar project.
SOLAR CANOPIES: RENEW Wisconsin will administer canopy donations through the Couillard Solar Foundation. The canopy is sold complete, including panels, beams, tie bars, clamps and hardware.
- A base cash grant of $6,000 will be awarded for the first 20kW in system size.*
- Each additional 10kW will receive an additional $3,000.*
- The grant value will be calculated on the final, installed size of the array. For example:
|FUNDING FOR||GRANT SIZE|
|Canopies 20kW to 29kW||$6,000*|
|Canopies 30kW to 39kW||$9,000*|
|Canopies 40kW to 49kW||$12,000*|
|Canopies 50kW to 59kW||$15,000*|
*Winning nonprofits will need to budget for all other costs associated with the canopy array installation (including substructure, additional electrical supplies needed to fully install the array, labor and, if necessary, surface preparation).
Education: Our energy experts are talking to nonprofit organizations across the state about how solar can help them. Want to learn more? Invite us to give a presentation to your organization about the benefits of solar energy and how it works. Contact us at email@example.com.
Who is eligible for Solar for Good funding?
In order to receive an award, the organization must be a registered nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin, be in good financial standing and able to accept donations, and own its building and/or be able to make necessary changes to its roof or property to accommodate solar. Please note that this program is designed to fund mission-based organizations. In addition, organizations receiving an award must agree to participate in educating community members about the benefits of solar energy. You can view a draft Memorandum of Understanding that nonprofits agree to who received a Solar for Good award HERE.
Are there geographic restrictions on who can apply?
Any nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin and serving Wisconsin may apply.
We are just starting our solar journey and don’t know the system size/cost. Can we apply?
Organizations should have identified a contractor and received a solar site assessment with a recommended system size and cost estimate before applying.
Can we receive multiple awards from Solar for Good?
No. Organizations can receive either a donation of solar panels OR a project grant. However, an organization can apply for multiple awards if multiple solar arrays are being installed.
Can we receive this award if we are applying for a Focus on Energy grant or some other incentive?
Yes. You must let us know in your application which other grants or funding sources you expect to receive, including Focus on Energy.
How do I leverage my Award?
The Solar for Good program is designed to help support projects, not to fund them entirely. If you are awarded a grant, there are several ways to leverage the Solar for Good award to fund the remaining cost:
Matching fund for a public fundraising campaign. If you have a community of supporters or want to engage the broader public through donations for your cause, a Solar for Good award can serve as a non-monetary contribution to provide a bigger incentive for others to donate.
Contribution to an existing budget. Perhaps your organization has a capital budget or funds on hand but needs some help to pay the full cost of a solar power system. A Solar for Good award can help defray the cost of buying a system outright.
“Gap” funding for a financed system. If your organization is looking to finance a system through a bank loan or other arrangement, our award can reduce the amount you need to finance. This means smaller, more affordable ongoing payments.
What happens if we can’t install the solar panels within 12 months of receiving an award?
If you have legitimate circumstances beyond your control and can show progress toward your fundraising goal, we may be able to work with you to offer an extension. The available panels may be a different manufacturer or model.
How do I apply?
• Before you apply for a Solar for Good award, take some time to learn about solar energy and evaluate whether this is a good idea for your organization.
• Get a site assessment from one or more reputable solar companies. Determine which company you will work with and identify the size and cost of the project you will install.
• Apply for a grant. To review a PDF of the application, click HERE. Note: If you have any difficulty completing the application, including uploading your project proposal OR proof of your tax-exempt status (an IRS designation or current certificate from Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions), please email SolarforGood@renewwisconsin.org.
• Applications must be submitted through the online application form. Emailed or mailed-in application forms will not be reviewed.
RENEW evaluates each application on an individual basis. If your application is approved, we will reserve your award until you are ready to install your project (Solar Panels) or until after your solar project is complete (Project Grant). RENEW Wisconsin will hold grant reservations for no more than 12 months, so all fundraising, design and installation for the project must be completed within that timeframe.
If your application is selected:
• Accept your award by signing our MOU. Your document will be customized, but you can view a sample MOU HERE.
• If you haven’t already, sign your contract with your solar company and give us a copy of your contract and proposal.
• Execute your fundraising campaign. We require you to check in with us at 6 months and show that you are on track to meet your funding goal. If you are not on track, we will work with you to find a solution or cancel your reservation.
• Work with your solar contractor to complete installation of the solar project within 12 months. RENEW Wisconsin will arrange for your solar panels when your contractor is ready to install.
Check out these webinars for more information about how your organization can go solar!
Solar for Nonprofits – July 2020
Solar for Schools – September 2020
WHY ARE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS GOING SOLAR?
SOLAR ENERGY PROMOTES A CLEANER, HEALTHIER WISCONSIN
LOWER ENERGY COSTS MEANS MORE MONEY FOR MISSIONS AND PROGRAMS
ENERGY LEADERSHIP INSPIRES AND ENGAGES THEIR COMMUNITIES
Visit Sheboygan STEAM
Sheboygan, WI | 19.5 kW System | $5,000 Grant
Environmental stewardship and education are core to our mission. Therefore, we are thrilled that this solar project has helped reduce the energy-related costs of our STEAM programming while simultaneously demonstrating that solar power can be effective in our climate and region.
Kathy Cannistra, Visit Sheboygan STEAM
South Range, WI | 19.24 kW System | $8,658 Grant
Installing solar has long been a dream at Camp Amnicon. The project will support our core values but also provide a new piece of educational programming to teach youth about our relationship to energy.
Brandon Due, Camp Amnicon
Friends of the Albertson Memorial Library
Albany, WI | 28.8 kW System | $10,000 Grant
We view this as an investment in the Library’s future, both monetarily and educationally. We will reduce our expenses and set an example for our community in renewable energy implementation and use.
Roald Henderson, Friends of the Albertson Memorial Library
North Central Conservancy Trust
Stevens Point, WI | 3.4 kW System | $2.676 Grant
We consider ourselves to be a conservation organization with environmental stewardship and natural resource protection as a top priority. Utilizing renewable and sustainable resources, like solar energy, underscores our mission and objectives.
Christopher C. Radford, North Central Conservancy Trust
Sheboygan Falls, WI | 9.94 kW System | $4,144 Grant
This system offsets 25% of our expected kWh usage annually and saves Nourish Farms $1,362/year!
Heather Cleveland, Nourish Farms
Neshkoro Area Fire Protection District
Neshkoro, WI | 14.08 kW System | $3,164 Grant
This is an example of where the Venn Diagram of doing the right thing and doing the smart thing completely overlap. This project will serve as a public example to the community of both the value and the practicality of investing in renewable energy.
Steven R. Sheldon, Neshkoro Area Fire Protection District
Yerkes Future Foundation
Williams Bay, WI | 60 kW System | $12.488 Grant
Yerkes Observatory has a tradition of being forward thinking, innovative, and revolutionary. Bringing a solar power project of this level tot he area would be a first. It will allow us to pursue the innovative culture we strive for while keeping operational costs manageable.
Dianna Colman, Yerkes Future Foundation
Milwaukee, WI | 20.3 kW System | $10,000 Grant
This serves as a tangible opportunity for the students to learn about how energy works, why renewable energy is important, and how we can all have a positive impact on the environment through the decisions we make.
Catie Malcheski, SunVest Solar
First Congregational Church
Oshkosh, WI | 19.3 kW System | $10,000 Grant
What I found especially exciting was that, as the campaign progressed, putting in solar panels became a higher and higher priority for us. In the end, installing the solar panels was the very first project we completed, and it’s been a joy to track our production of electricity ever since.
Reverend Nancy Taylor, First Congregational Church
Sinsinawa, WI | 250 kW System | $20,000 Grant
We recognize Sinsinawa Mound as a sacred place entrusted to our care. With that in mind, we are taking a step forward in reducing our carbon footprint through solar energy.
Ray Hess, Sinsinawa Mound
Beth Israel Center
Madison, WI | 64 kW System | $3,000 Grant
By significantly reducing our carbon footprint, this project affirms our commitment to the traditional teaching of Tikkun Olam – the notion that we are responsible for ‘repair of the world.
Steve Goldstein, Beth Israel Center
Catholic Youth Expeditions
Baileys Harbor, WI | 20.3 kW System | $10,000 Grant
Our monthly energy bills have been cut in half, drastically reducing our operating expenses.
Father Quinn Mann, Catholic Youth Expeditions