This year, Habitat for Humanity chapters throughout Wisconsin partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) for the Grow Solar for Humanity initiative, created to bring solar to households that will significantly benefit from reduced utility bills. The program, coordinated by the MREA, implements affordable renewable energy on homes built by Habitat for Humanity within the last year. Thirty-five of the forty-nine Wisconsin Habitat for Humanity homes receiving solar are in the city of Milwaukee, spanning the Harambee and Midtown neighborhoods.
“By reducing energy costs, this project will bring long-term savings for these families, while increasing the value of their homes,” Chris Garrison, construction director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, explains that the organization works to help families achieve financial stability through affordable homeownership.
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,” says Scott Bloedorn, Focus on Energy’s program manager. “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.”
Since 2011, Focus on Energy has delivered more than $1 billion worth of economic benefits to Wisconsin. For every $1 spent, Focus on Energy returns more than $4 to Wisconsin’s economy through energy savings, jobs and environmental impacts.
Solar installations began in November and will be completed early next year. The project was awarded to Arch Solar, a local Wisconsin solar company, through a competitive bid process.
“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,” states Dexter Peirce, an energy consultant at Arch Solar. “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.”
The Grow Solar for Humanity program is offered on behalf of the following Habitat for Humanity affiliates: Chippewa Valley, Door County, Fox Cities, Lakeside, Dane County, Kenosha, Washington and Dodge Counties, Wisconsin River, Milwaukee, and St. Croix Valley. When all the Grow Solar for Humanity solar projects are finished, roughly 414 kW of solar will be installed.