Madison College Announces Large Rooftop Solar Project


Madison Area Technical College (MATC) will add $1.8 million to a grant from utility Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to build a 1.4 MW solar PV system atop the school’s main Truax Campus building in Madison, Wis. MATC says the system, which will be visible and accessible to students, will serve as a demonstration of new, clean energy technology at work in the community and could save the campus more than $200,000 per year in electricity costs.

“Once installed, our system will be the largest rooftop PV system in Wisconsin,” claims Ken Walz, MATC chemistry and engineering instructor and director of the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE). “On a sunny day, the system will reduce the college’s peak electric load by about 50 percent. Averaged over an entire year, it will offset about 10 to 15 percent of the college’s total electric consumption.”

MGE and the college expect to announce the selection of a solar developer in August. System design and acquisition of equipment will follow. The college plans to involve students in the installation beginning in summer 2018. It should be completed in a few months.

“We know clean energy is important to our community,” says Walz. “Thanks to the work of many people, including our students, faculty and MGE, we have bold plans for clean energy for our campus.”

MATC is one of three colleges behind CREATE, which works to advance renewable energy education by supporting two-year college renewable energy programs. The college has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation to develop curriculum, create new educational programs, and train faculty and students throughout the country in renewable energy.

“This partnership between Madison College and MGE is a great opportunity for hands-on learning, as students will be able to interact with the system on-site,” says Dave Toso, senior engineer at MGE. “We look forward to working with Madison College and the students as they implement their new solar installation and learn about how new technologies are rapidly changing the energy landscape and our community grid.”

In addition to cost savings, the PV solar system will offer numerous benefits to MATC students and community members. The proposal includes solar electric monitoring technology to provide output data for analysis by students and the public.

Accessible instructional space on the roof of the Truax Campus will allow renewable energy students to conduct periodic inspections of the system to check for signs of wear, weathering and maintenance needs. Students enrolled in related fields, such as electrical apprentice, electronics, electrical engineering, industrial maintenance and architecture, will also benefit from having access to the PV installation.

Colleges and universities are increasingly going solar. To learn more about installing solar at such institutions, check out Solar Industry‘s June article, “Developing Projects For Higher Education,” here

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Mitch Brey
Mitch Brey

Great project! One thing the public should be aware of is that the portion of funding that comes from MGE is the result of a settlement in a lawsuit over pollution caused by MGE. As a part of the lawsuit settlement, MGE is required to help fund projects to mitigate the damage they did to the environment.

It is excellent that MATC is taking advantage of that money and even adding additional funds to take advantage of the economics of this great investment!