October 13, 2011
From the North Woods to the Illinois border, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, growing numbers of Wisconsin factories, businesses, schools, hospitals, fire stations, apartment buildings and breweries have installed systems that heat their water with the power of the sun.
A newly launched online map on RENEW Wisconsin’s web site displays the locations of more than 60 nonresidential solar hot water systems installed in the state. Each flagged system is accompanied by a box containing information on the owner, installation contractor, system size and date of installation. Many of these systems are linked to their installers’ web sites, accompanied by photos.
The solar hot water map joins the family of on-line renewable energy maps developed by RENEW Wisconsin in the past year. Some maps are resource-specific; others break out renewable energy systems by county.
“These maps verify the enormously positive effect that Wisconsin’s clean energy initiatives like Focus on Energy have had in creating such a vibrant economic sector,” said RENEW executive director Michael Vickerman.
Created in 1999 and strengthened in 2006, Focus on Energy is a ratepayer-funded initiative that helps Wisconsin residents and businesses employ energy efficiency measures and install renewable energy systems.
“In the past five years, Focus on Energy incentives have been instrumental in putting solar hot water on the map in Wisconsin,” Vickerman said. “No other Midwestern state has come close to experiencing Wisconsin’s success in advancing this particular application of solar energy.”
The table below shows the five largest solar hot water installations operating in Wisconsin, two are located at University of Wisconsin campuses.
Installer: H&H Solar, Green Sky Energetics
Capacity: 6,800 square feet (total)
Year installed: 2010, 2011
Terrytown Plumbing/H&H Solar
Menomonie Indian Tribe
Hooper Corp./ Pertzborn Plumbing
Avis Rent-a-Car (multiple locations)
Mitchell’s Heating & Cooling
Milwaukee-based Hot Water Products, one of the largest stocking distributors for solar thermal and domestic hot water systems in the Midwest, supplied and designed four of these systems and many others in Wisconsin over the last five years. In addition to training contractors in this field, Hot Water Products also assists them with system design and equipment sizing support.
This year, installation activity has been brisk, but most installation contractors are bracing for a sharp slowdown in 2012, due to a Focus on Energy decision on July 1st to suspend renewable energy grants and incentives to nonresidential customers. The announcement of the funding suspension came after the Legislature voted in June to lop $20 million from Focus on Energy’s 2012 budget.
“The longer Focus on Energy’s funding suspension goes on, the deeper the damage will be. Installers are holding their breath as they wait for Focus on Energy to restore renewable energy funding assistance.”
Installers and system owners wishing to add their installations to the map should contact Alex Brasch at firstname.lastname@example.org.