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.