Fitchburg, WI, further along on its goal to generate 25 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2025, now that the city council unanimously approved plans to install 362 kilowatts of rooftop solar across four municipal buildings. The installations will replace 10 percent of Fitchburg’s energy usage when they come online in 2017 saving the town approximately $54,000 in the first year of operation and up to $3 million over 40 years.
“Fitchburg is committed to clean, renewable sources of energy for the long term, and we will continue to expand our renewable energy capacity as opportunities arise. There’s a strong business case to continue investing in renewables, and it’s a win-win as the stewards of our environment and of our taxpayer dollars. This solar initiative also establishes Fitchburg as a leader among cities in Dane County working hard to combat climate change,” said Fitchburg Mayor Jason Gonzalez (D).
The solar arrays will be installed by Convergence Energy and Arch Electric on the roofs of the West Fire Station, city hall, Public Works maintenance facility garage and the library. The library, a LEED Gold building, will host the largest array, consisting of over 1,000 photovoltaic panels that are projected to generate up to 452,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.
Overall the projects costs $580,000 and were partially funded with $50,617 in grants. Funding also included a $2,500 award from the Wisconsin Distributed Resource Collaborative to conduct a study and survey to find the most efficient and cost effective locations to install the project.
“With the drop in solar prices, it became clear that this is an incredible investment. We could see early on that the project would bring dramatic energy and cost savings for years to come. At the same time, we’re also committed to clean energy because it’s good for the planet, people’s health, and our local economy,” said Gonzalez.
Wisconsin’s solar industry was off to a slow start and utilities have pushed back against the expansion of rooftop solar. For instance, We Energies wanted to impose a $3.79 per kilowatt charge on rooftop solar at the end of 2015, totaling about $19 per solar customer every month. The measure was struck down in court, citing a lack of evidence to substantiate the rate increases.
Despite that development of rooftop solar and larger-scale facilities has increased in the last couple of years. The state's Public Service Commission turned $7.7 million allocated toward providing loans to install rooftop solar into rebates for 500 homes, businesses and non-profits between 2017 to 2018. And earlier this year WPPI and NextEra Resources also announced plans to construct the 100 megawatt Point Beach Solar Energy Center by 2021, one of the region's largest solar farms to date.Tweet