Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Transportation Building Going Solar?

Seeking consultants to study installing solar panels at site in Wauwatosa.

By - Mar 1st, 2023 10:12 am
Solar panels

Solar panels. CC0 Creative Commons. Photo from pixabay.

The Milwaukee County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is considering installing solar panels at its large fleet management site in Wauwatosa.

Right now the county agency is looking for consultants to help determine if it can install an array of solar panels on top of the building, or somewhere in the parking lot, at its Central Fleet Maintenance Garage and administration building, 10320 W. Watertown Plank Rd.

There are approximately 300,000 square feet of flat roof and 2.5 acres of parking lot at the site that MCDOT officials think could host photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, according to a document prepared for potential consultants. If the study finds its feasible, MCDOT may go after federal grants to fund the project.

MCDOT is also asking the future consultant to consider how future fleet electrification needs, like vehicle charging stations and battery capacity, will affect the “financial value” of a solar installation.

Members of the Milwaukee County Board have, in recent years, sponsored legislation attempting to move the county closer to fleet electrification. A 2021 budget amendment led MCDOT to determine the price tag of an electrification consultant, and in 2022 Sup. Ryan Clancy sought to fund a fleet electrification study. The study would have been paid for out of the county’s rainy-day account and failed to pass the full board.

The Milwaukee County Transit System is already heading toward electrification. The bus system’s first 11 Battery Electric Buses will roll out along the East-West Bus Rapid Transit Line on June 4, and another four buses will make up a pilot-program to study further electrification of the bus fleet.

The county has committed itself to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which includes carbon neutrality by 2050 for all signatories. In 2021, board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson authored legislation directing the county to develop a plan for achieving its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

An early appraisal of the county’s carbon emissions following Nicholson’s legislation showed that the county was already well on its way to achieving its climate goals. and that between 2005 and 2018 the county already reduced its emissions by 31%.

Also in 2021, Milwaukee County Parks inked a deal with We Energies to allow the utility to install what is the largest solar array on county-owned property at the Oakwood Golf Course.

The county also recently conducted a survey seeking the public’s feedback on climate concerns and their confidence in local government to address them. The results have yet to be released.

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