Unanimous Solar Power Approval
In August 2017, the Fitchburg Common Council approved plans to invest in 362 kW of solar electric panels (over 1000 panels) to be installed on the West Fire Station, City Hall, Public Works Maintenance Facility, and the Public Library. The installation was estimated to cost $580,000 and was officially completed late 2017, with all four buildings now producing energy.
Huge Energy Savings
Fitchburg received $50,000 from two grants to aid in financing the project, and is expecting to save $54,000 in energy costs this year. By year nine the panels should pay for themselves. By year 40 (the expected lifespan of the solar panels) the city is estimating energy savings to be over $3.1 million collectively.
Currently this municipality has the largest solar electric array of any local government in WI. The most visible panels can be seen at City Hall, which have already produced over 16 mega watt hours (MWh) over four months.
“There’s a strong business case to continue investing in renewables, and it’s a win-win as the stewards of our environment and our taxpayer dollars,” said Mayor Jason Gonzalez.
Previously, an additional 12.3 kW of panels were installed on City Hall’s roof in September 2009, and 9.9 kW of ground-mounted solar PV panels were installed at the Public Works Maintenance Facility in 2011.
The roof of the West Fire Station is now mostly covered with the new photo-voltaic system totaling 92 kW, which is expected to cover 85% of the building’s electricity.
Between these buildings, 362 kW have been installed which will cover a full 10% of the entire city’s electricity usage this year. The goal is to reach 25% by the year 2025, and this first installment gives Fitchburg a big step forward.