In 2016, the Shorewood Conservation Committee partnered with Milwaukee Shines to offer residents a record-setting Solar Shorewood group-buy opportunity. The program finished with 174 kW installed on 52 homes and businesses in the Milwaukee area. Nearly a third of these installations (totalling 52 kW) went on 15 Shorewood buildings, and 78 kW went on 28 Milwaukee buildings. The remainder happened elsewhere in Southeastern Wisconsin. Congratulations to everyone who participated, both organizers and consumers. This has been the largest group-buy to date in Wisconsin.
The programs, which represent a partnership between the City of Milwaukee's Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO), the Village of Shorewood, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), also worked with local partners to help spread the word about the program, including: Colectivo Coffee, 91.7 WMSE, Milwaukee Public Libraries, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters, Sherman Perk Cafe, Urban Ecology Center, Alverno, Riverwest Public House, Camp Bar, Three Lions Pub, and the Shorewood Village Center. These partnerships were crucial to making the program such a success.
Solar group-buy programs pool the purchasing power of residents and help secure a competitive price for solar installation contracted and completed in a designated timeframe. The marketing campaign focuses on community outreach through one-hour information sessions called "Solar Power Hours." These Solar Power Hours were held at supporting locations throughout neighborhoods of Milwaukee and Shorewood. Attendees learned about solar technology, program details, options for financing a solar installation, and information on available incentives. This also gave home and business owners the opportunity to meet with representatives from the programs' selected solar installer, Arch Electric. Over 230 individuals attended Solar Power Hours between April and August.
Shorewood Village Trustee Paul Zovic and his wife Joanne were among this year's first participants to go solar. The Zovic family installed a 2-kW array on their home with the help of Solar Shorewood. "Joanne and I had been thinking about adding solar panels to our house for several years," notes Zovic. "We've replaced windows and doors, added insulation, and installed more efficient mechanical equipment (boiler, water heater, etc); so solar was a logical next step in our continued effort to reduce our energy usage, improve our environmental impact, and save money."
Shorewood has set an ambitious goal to achieve 25 percent renewable energy generation by the year 2025. It won't happen without the courageous leap of early adopters, even within a housing stock that presents some challenges for solar installation. The Conservation Committee was extremely proud to bring this opportunity to Shorewood residents and looks forward to continuing to be a part of Wisconsin's clean energy revolution.