Thanks to sustainable solar systems on their homes, 49 Habitat for Humanity homes in Wisconsin will notice a significant decrease in their energy costs this winter and beyond.
The Grow Solar for Humanity initiative, which aims to bring solar to homes that will significantly benefit from lower utility bills, has been developed in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity chapters around Wisconsin and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).
Cost-effective renewable energy is used in the initiative, which is run by the MREA, on houses that Habitat for Humanity has just completed. 35 of the 49 Wisconsin Habitat for Humanity homes receiving solar energy are located in Milwaukee, in the Midtown and Harambee districts.
Chris Garrison, Construction Director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, explains that the organization works to help families achieve financial stability through affordable homeownership. “By reducing energy costs, this project will bring long-term savings for these families, while increasing the value of their homes.”
Focus on Energy funds the solar portion of these homes. For more than 20 years, Focus on Energy and Wisconsin’s electric and natural gas utilities have partnered to help residential and business customers across the state make cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades. “Habitat for Humanity is committed to helping Wisconsinites live in comfortable and affordable homes,” Focus on Energy Program Manager Scott Bloedorn says. “Building energy-efficient homes is the most cost-effective way to control energy bills. By adding solar, Habitat for Humanity helps reduce energy costs even further.”
Wisconsin has received more than $1 billion in economic benefits from Focus on Energy since 2011. Focus on Energy contributes more than $4 to Wisconsin’s economy for every dollar spent in the form of energy savings, jobs, and environmental benefits. Solar installations began in November and will be completed early next year.
The project was awarded to Arch Solar, a local Wisconsin solar business, after an open bid procedure. Arch has already worked with the cities of Milwaukee and Madison on annual group purchases to encourage locals to install solar in their communities. The objective of Arch, a multi-generational family-owned company, is to offer affordable renewable energy to the entire state.
“For Arch, these installations are exciting because they bring the financial and environmental value of solar power to communities who have not had much if any, access to solar power in the past. The electricity from solar panels provides financial stability by both avoiding rising utility costs and significantly reducing energy bills, all by powering their home with a clean, sustainable energy source,” says Dexter Peirce, an energy consultant at Arch Solar.
Approximately 414 kW of solar will be installed once all the Habitat for Humanity solar projects are finished, which will jointly save these households’ at least $50,323 in just the first year of commissioning. It is so good to see projects like these, and hopefully we will see more in other states as well. When solar is applied as a renewable energy choice, we all benefit. Nowhere is it more regenerative than when solar finds a way into neighborhoods that have been historically underserved and overlooked.