The City of Madison makes it easy for residents to “go solar.” MadiSUN, the City’s solar energy initiative, has multiple programs that help homeowners, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and affordable housing providers install onsite solar electric systems. Since 2016, the three programs have added over 2,000 kilowatts of renewable energy to the community’s electric grid, enough to offset around 420 households.
“Every rooftop solar installation contributes to the City of Madison’s goal of 100% renewable energy and helps reduce carbon emissions,” said Stacie Reece, the Sustainability Program Coordinator for the City of Madison.
The MadiSUN Group Buy program brings together homeowners from across the area and uses their collective buying power to get a great deal on solar. The program evaluates local solar contractors based on previous installations and customer reviews to ensure that every participant has access to experienced, reputable solar contractors.
The Solar Group Buy officially expanded this year to allow all residents of Dane County to participate.
“With 100 percent clean energy goals now in place for the City of Madison and Dane County, ensuring that all residents have access to solar energy is more important than ever. With the program’s expansion this year, we wanted to guarantee that Dane County residents had multiple options when it came to solar,” said Sam Dunaiski, Program Director for MadiSUN. “Residents in rural portions of Dane County have different needs than residents in urban or suburban areas. Homeowners will now have access to more solar contractors and the different materials and services they provide.”
Qualifying participants in the program are referred to Arch Electric, Full Spectrum Solar, and Midwest Solar Power for in-depth home solar proposals. Participants get to decide which local contractor designs and installs their systems.
The renewable energy systems installed through MadiSUN help the community reduce overall emissions and create family-supporting jobs.
“MadiSUN helps keep Wisconsin’s solar homegrown,” said Stanley Minnick, Branch Manager at Arch Electric’s Madison-based office. “The program ensures that residents receive straightforward information and that their projects are designed by reputable contractors.”
Thanks to improvements in solar technology and utility policies, and residential solar costs at historically low levels, the time to install solar has never been better. Installing a solar system can reduce a homeowner’s utility bill, increase a home’s resale value, and provide a clean energy source for years to come.
“Solar installation costs have dropped by 75 percent in the last decade,” Dunaiski said. “Plus, with statewide rebates from the Focus on Energy program, and federal tax credits, the cost of a solar system can be cut by nearly a third of the original price.”
The Solar Group Buy provides multiple options for homeowners looking to finance their solar systems. Low-interest loans for solar arrays will be available through greenpenny bank and Clean Energy Credit Union, making renewable energy an option for many homeowners.
“We can offer Dane County residents fast, easy, and affordable financing for their solar projects,” said Jason MacDuff, Vice President of greenpenny. “Whether the appeal of solar is its climate stewardship, its economic benefits, or both, greenpenny’s mission is to finance a sustainable tomorrow.”
The MadiSUN Solar for Business program, currently in its fourth year, offers grants to Madison-based businesses installing onsite solar. The program has facilitated solar on 16 businesses across the city for a total capacity of more than 750 kilowatts of renewable energy.
The Backyard Solar program also offers grants for solar projects with affordable housing providers and nonprofit organizations in the city. The program approved seven grants during its first two years of operation. These projects will result in nearly 550 kilowatts of solar energy, enough to power roughly 100 households.
Movin’ Out, an affordable housing provider based in Madison, won a Backyard grant in 2020 to install a 100-kilowatt solar array at the Ace Apartments. The facility provides affordable housing access to children, veterans, the disabled, and their families.
“The opportunity to participate in MadiSUN’s Backyard Solar program helps us achieve our goals for green building to provide the healthiest possible environments for the people and communities we serve,” said Kathryne Auerback, Executive Director of Movin’ Out. “The more we are able to invest in renewable energy and environmentally sustainable building now, the greater the returns will be in the long run.”
Residents can receive a complimentary solar assessment by visiting madisunsolar.com and filling out the “I’m Interested” form. Applications for the Group Buy program must be submitted by August 31, 2021. The application deadline for the Backyard Solar Grant is September 1, 2021, and applications for the Solar for Business grant are open until December 31, 2021.
“MadiSUN simplifies the process of going solar,” said Dunaiski. “Our staff find reputable solar contractors, help lower the costs, find financing solutions, and we educate residents every step of the way. In short, MadiSUN makes going solar simple.”