clean energy

Sunny Skies Ahead

Are you ready for a little good news on climate change for a change? Just a smidgen, but good news nonetheless. With help from Midwest Solar Power LLC, Madison Audubon is getting into the business of producing carbon-free, solar electricity. We’re installing a 7.6-kilowatt photovoltaic array at our land steward’s residence on Prairie Lane at Faville Grove Sanctuary. In full sun, the array will produce 7,600 watts of electricity that will run backwards through the electric meter into the local utility’s wires, producing about 10,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year.

Installation begins on October 24, 2018. A beautiful day to harness the sun’s energy! Photo by Roger Packard

Installation begins on October 24, 2018. A beautiful day to harness the sun’s energy! Photo by Roger Packard

Frames for the solar panels are in, as of October 29, 2018. Photo by Roger Packard

Frames for the solar panels are in, as of October 29, 2018. Photo by Roger Packard

Installation of all 26 solar panels was complete as of October 31, 2018! Photo by David Musolf

Installation of all 26 solar panels was complete as of October 31, 2018! Photo by David Musolf

No, this won’t save the planet, but it is a step in the right direction. Plus, it says something about the economics of solar electricity when our finance committee concludes that, aside from its environmental benefits, the project represents a smart investment of donated funds that will return substantial cost savings over its estimated 30-year lifespan.

Prices of solar electric panels have dropped steadily in recent years. If you’re a homeowner with a sunny spot that isn’t already occupied by your vegetable garden, you can claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost of a system installed through 2019 and receive a rebate of up to $2,000 from the Focus on Energy program. As a non-profit, Madison Audubon can’t claim a tax credit, but we did secure a Renewable Energy Grant from WPPI Energy, a Solar for Good grant from RENEW Wisconsin, and a Focus on Energy rebate, totaling about half the project cost. One of the 25 panels was donated by Midwest Solar Power, and the remaining panels were paid for by generous donations from MAS members like you!

We hope to install photovoltaic arrays at Goose Pond Sanctuary next year, so for those of you who lack the needed sunny spot (and those of you who just can’t get enough of the sun), you can still get a solar buzz with a contribution to Madison Audubon.

Written by Roger Packard, Madison Audubon board president