Helping Wisconsin schools go solar

Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 8:47 AM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is trying to get as many Wisconsin schools to go solar as possible to help lower carbon emissions and cost of energy.

MREA began ‘Solar on Schools’ in November 2019 and provides $20,000 grants to help pay for installation, and one school in Central Wisconsin area is seeing the benefits.

“Schools in general are community centerpieces, so when schools are doing things, not only are other school districts paying attention, but the wider community is paying attention as well,” MREA Program Manager Amanda Schienebeck said.

Schienebeck said each year Wisconsin schools collectively spend $175 million annually on energy costs.

Something she believes can easily be lowered and ultimately help students.

“Going solar and having renewable energy is a huge opportunity to lower that operating expense without cutting educational programming,” she said.

22 Wisconsin schools have already gone the solar route, providing approximately 50 kilowatts of power with the help of a $20,000 grant, a benefit mid-state technical college in stevens point can’t deny, especially for the students.

“This has been great for us. It provides our students with some great hands on experience, some great, relevant experience in the world of renewable energy,” Mid-State Technical College School of Advanced Manufacture and Engineering Dean Ryan Kawski said.

Mid-State had their solar equipment installed in July 2020 by their own renewable energy technician students.

The solar energy provides about 15% of the campus’ electrical capacity.

The school has been able to use the saved money from electrical costs for improvements to their renewable energy curriculum.

“We’re able to redevelop those courses for those students so that the students can continue to stay relevant in that field,” Kawski said.

MREA hopes to get see at least 40 Wisconsin schools go solar and eventually get more to join the trend.

“We’re really hoping to use schools as kind of that centerpiece to kind of push solar adoption even more than it already is in Wisconsin,” Schienebeck said.

The School District of Marshfield also went solar from this program.

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