On Tuesday, June 20th, Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA) celebrated the completion of their 100-kilowatt solar array. Vernon Economic Development Association is a nonprofit that is dedicated to strengthening its community through economic development by bringing state and federal resources to its region.

The 180-panel ground-mounted array, designed and installed by Ethos Green Power Cooperative (EGPC), was installed on the Food Enterprise Center and is projected to produce nearly 130,000 kilowatt-hours annually, offsetting approximately 60% of the shared space usage.

“The electricity generated supports our common areas that serve small tenant businesses and refrigeration coolers produce and dairy produce storage for VEDA’s Community Hunger Solutions Program, which brings nutritious food to community members who lack access,” said Susan Noble, Executive Director of VEDA. This solar project is a critical part of our sustainability plan and a long-term solution fostering a stronger, more stable community.”

Several grants made this project possible, including Focus on Energy, Solar Moonshot, the BQuest Foundation, Associated Bank, GoMacro, Vernon Communications, EGPC Community Power Program, and individual community member donations.

VEDA also received a grant from Solar for Good, a RENEW Wisconsin program created in partnership with the Couillard Solar Foundation to help nonprofits go solar. Solar for Good awarded the organization half of the solar panels needed for their project. 

This solar project will save the organization valuable dollars, which can then be reinvested into its mission and community. “It is clearly a powerful investment which will save $300,000 in electricity costs over 25 years that can be put towards other operations and helping more businesses grow,” said Mike Breckel, president of VEDA’s Board of Directors. 

“Being able to utilize and demonstrate solar power to the community and the region is consistent with our mission to create sustainable economic growth that increases the prosperity and well-being of the people of this region while protecting and enhancing the area’s unique environment, which is the foundation of our rural lifestyle and quality of life,” continued Noble. 

With over 20 businesses located at the Food Enterprise Center, this solar array will have a wide-reaching impact on its tenants and customers. Installations like VEDA highlight the long-term economic benefits of renewable energy investments. As a well-known and well-respected organization in their region, this solar installation will be an example to other community members.