RENEW Wisconsin
Press Release

Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Powers Up New Solar Array for Community Center and 15 Tiny Houses

The nearly 20-kilowatt array will cut the organization’s electric use by 85% and will save the organization almost $4,000 in annual utility costs.

By - Jan 31st, 2019 10:35 am

Racine, WI – On Wednesday, February 6th, at 10:30 AM, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin will celebrate the installation of a 19.8-kilowatt solar array at the SC Johnson Community Center. Contributing partners RENEW Wisconsin, Walden III High School, and installer Arch Electric will also share in the celebration. Veterans Outreach will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion and commissioning of the project.

Plymouth-based Arch Electric installed nearly 60 solar panels atop the Veterans’ Community Center in October. This building gives veterans access to a full-sized kitchen with food pantry, a laundry room, restrooms with showering facilities, and a recreation area where the residents can socialize. In addition to providing the Community Center with electricity, the solar array also powers the 15 tiny-homes at the Veterans Village. These tiny homes provide the veterans with a television, a small storage space, and their own beds.

“It was an honor to be involved with the solar installation at the Veteran’s Outreach of Wisconsin,” said project manager Angie Domagalski of Arch Electric. “The tiny homes’ project addresses a very important need of our nation’s homeless veterans and is an innovative model that should be replicated nationally. Incorporating solar into this project will ensure that this program is fiscally and environmentally sustainable for decades to come.”

The solar installation received funding support through Solar for Good, an initiative from the renewable energy advocates at RENEW Wisconsin. Solar for Good is primarily funded by philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard of Deerfield, WI. Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin was awarded a $10,000 grant from Solar for Good in 2017 to assist in the funding of the solar arrays.

“In the 21st century, electricity is a basic need and these panels help fulfill that need for our homeless veterans,” said program manager Sam Dunaiski of RENEW Wisconsin. “By substantially reducing their utility bills, Veterans Outreach will be able to invest more money back into the fantastic programs that help our ex-service members. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Veterans Outreach worked with multiple partners to complete the project, including Walden III, a magnet middle/high school that focuses on the environment and sustainability. The Walden students directly raised over $9,000 for the solar project. The students also held an online auction which contributed an additional $20,000 to the Veteran’s fundraising efforts.

“Community service and environmental sustainability are core values at Walden III,” said Tom Rutkowski, a former teacher at Walden. “Through their organizing efforts and fundraising for the Veterans Village, Walden students were able to help the veterans by providing energy for many years while lowering the carbon footprint of the village.”

By raising over $20,000 for the project, the students’ efforts also triggered a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. In addition to the Solar for Good grant, the Veterans’ project was also awarded a Focus on Energy prescriptive grant. Veterans Outreach paid for the rest of the project with their own funding, costs they plan to recoup through offset electricity bills.

The nearly 20-kilowatt array will cut the organization’s electric use by 85% and will save the organization almost $4,000 in annual utility costs. The array has already produced over 2,600 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity and will continue to operate for another 25 to 30 years.

How to Apply

The Spring 2019 Solar for Good funding cycle will open on March 1, 2019. Applications are due by April 12, 2018. Winning grantees will be announced on or before May 1, 2019. To apply, visit https://www.renewwisconsin.org/solarforgood/.

About RENEW Wisconsin

RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization which promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, and geothermal energy. More information on RENEW’s website: www.renewwisconsin.org.

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