The original article written by Jeff Rumage of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The installation of solar panels on the Whitefish Bay Public Works building this summer is expected to save the village $620,000 over the next 25 years.
Public Works Director John Edlebeck said he began researching solar panels when resident informed him about WE Energies’ Solar Now project, in which the utility company leases space on rooftops for its solar panels.
After further research, Edlebeck realized it was nearly three times more cost effective for the village to purchase its own solar panels. He investigated the feasibility of a solar panel system with help from Arch Electric, whose portfolio includes a massive project at Ikea in Oak Creek.
Installing solar panels on the public works building at 155 W. Fairmount Ave. will cost an estimated $286,440. The installation bill will be defrayed by a $82,809 grant from Focus on Energy.
The village spends about $25,000 to $30,000 per year for the building’s electricity, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. After the solar panels are installed, the buildings annual electric bill is expected to drop to $2,500.
The estimated $27,500 in annual cost savings will be used to pay down he infrastructure investment in the first seven years. In the years that follow, the annual savings is estimated to reach more than $30,000, accounting for future WE Energies rate increases.
After 25 years, the village expects to have saved $620,000 on its electricity bills.
The energy obtained from solar panels is weather-dependent, of course. In the summer, the solar panels are expected to capture excess energy, which will be sold to WE Energies. In the Winter months, the village will have to purchase electricity from WE Energies.
In the next 25 years, the village expects to spend between $3,000 to $5,000 per year on energy, depending on the weather.
The solar panels have a lifespan of 30 years, but for the purpose of conservative budgeting, the cost savings were calculated with a 25-year lifespan. Edlebeck said the lifetime of the solar panels will expire around the time the building will need a new roof.
The solar panels will be installed by the end of August.
The solar panels will not be attached directly to the roof, due to concerns about creating a leakage in the roof. Instead, the solar panels will be placed unwire mesh baskets that are held down by large rocks.
The solar panel system will be hooked up to the internet, and the system will report when an individual solar panel is in need of maintenance.