Explore Solar Energy

Author: David Rhoads • May, 2021

This is an excellent time to consider solar for your home, business, office, non-profit, or church. The incentives and benefits are strong. Southeast Wisconsin Solar Group Buy is a local solar buy program that has chosen an outstanding solar installer, will work through the process with you personally, and offers an additional financial incentive. Through SWSGB, you can now sign up to get a Free Solar Analysis

SWSGB is a non-profit, fully volunteer initiative of Greening Greater Racine (GGR) and the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (GLCCC) dedicated to promoting “healthier and more sustainable communities.” SWSGB provides property owners the opportunity to invest in low-cost solar installations in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth Counties. 

In doing so, you will be joining many others who consider our changing climate to be a critical issue to address. Seven out of 10 people of those recently surveyed across the United States indicated that they think climate change to be a matter that requires urgent action. In another study, 80% of those surveyed said that they would be willing to make lifestyle changes to address climate change as they have done with Covid-19. By choosing to install solar, you are taking action on behalf of our common well-being.  

Be part of the movement to see our country shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Recently, solar surpassed coal as a key source of energy in the US.[1] Data also shows that some major banks are shifting assets toward renewable energy. The Pentagon considers climate change as a serious security issue.[2] Insurance companies are beginning to factor climate change into their risk assessments. You too can see solar energy as insurance against the future. You can join this movement away from coal and gas energy by tightening your energy efficiency and by adopting energy from the sun. You might like the idea of getting the bulk of your energy independent of the traditional power grid.

Imagine the line of electricity from your current home or office: Stripping mountainsides, dangerous mining of coal, risky transport across country in coal trains, the burning of these fuels at a local plant, and the infusion of electricity into your home. Then carbon dioxide goes out of our homes to pollute the air and ends up in the atmosphere warming the planet. Then come the monthly energy bills for this service! When you think about it, fossil fuels are absurd and unnecessary when renewable energy is available and abundant.

Now imagine energy from the sun coming free of charge directly to your roof, being converted to electricity, powering your home or business, with little or no energy costs, possibly resulting in money back from the electric company. You may even be charging your electric car. This vision belongs to the near future. 

You may have cautions about solar. Will we have enough energy from the sun in Wisconsin? Yes. Germany is on the same Meridian as Wisconsin and they have solar installations everywhere. Will it work if I do not have a south facing roof? Where appropriate, installations are now being made on east-west facing roofs and working well. A ground array may also be an option. Won’t it lower the value of my house should I choose to sell it? Studies show that the price of housing goes up with solar installations. Calculate the appeal of buying a home that will have little or no electricity costs going forward? What about the appearance of my house in the neighborhood? It may be more attractive than you might imagine. And more and more installations are going up in the same neighborhoods. 

But can I afford such a project? Yes, solar can be expensive. But you can get a free assessment and find out if it is right for you. There are many incentives that will help you make a decision. For example, for homes and businesses, there is a tax credit off the top that is equal to 26% of the total cost of your installation (it goes down to 23% in 2022). For businesses, in 2021, there is also a tax depreciation option for the first five or six years. Focus on Energy offers $1000 grants for homes and $2000 for businesses. More may be available for businesses upon application. There are some further grants available to assist nonprofit organizations and churches. Purchasing through a group buy program will also lower the cost with an additional rebate. Some low-interest loans can eliminate upfront costs. The payback time will depend upon each situation.

Clearly, you will be benefiting not only yourself but the community. Respiratory illnesses account for one out of every eight deaths in the United States. Polluted air is the primary cause. Your installation can even benefit your immediate neighbors and certainly the surrounding area in this corridor between Chicago and Milwaukee. This is an opportunity for you to show your commitment to care for our community. And, in so doing, you will be encouraging others to do the same. 

Next steps? In order to achieve maximum energy efficiency and conservation, start by doing any number of practical things in your home to limit your energy use and lower your energy bill. Focus on Energy has local trade allies for electricity, HVAC, and insulation. Focus on Energy will also provide you with the current incentives to any energy efficient projects you take on. In addition, you can visit http://GreeningGreaterRacine.weebly.com/action.html, where there are many suggestions for efficiency and conservation. [And on the www.swsgb.solar website?]

In order to consider solar, go to the website at www.swsgb.solar and register to join one of our informative webinars coming up in the summer months. For 2021, SWSGB has enlisted the award-winning solar installer, Eagle Point Solar, who co-directs the presentations. Or go ahead and sign up to get a Free Solar Analysis. You will be given a simple method to access your energy bills for the last 12 months from WE Energies. Once those figures are submitted, you will be contacted by Eagle Point Solar regarding your analysis. They will provide a chart with all the information needed to make an informed decision. They will also assist with accessing all the financial incentives. If you decide to get an installation, SWSGB will be with you throughout the process.

SWSGB began in 2015 as Solar Racine. Up to this year, they have installed solar in 75 homes and six businesses, a combined total of 485 kW of installed solar capacity for an annual estimated output of 660,000 kWh of energy produced each year. Over the lifetime of these installations, they will be producing electricity equivalent to 1,832,742 gallons of vehicle gas, the equivalent to 18,657 metric tons of CO2, and the planting and growing of 308,503 new trees over 10 years. [1] 

SWSGB is committed to equity. We are working to address the needs of low-income housing and an older housing stock in support of energy efficiency and solar installations. We are cooperating with the city of Racine to help make this happen. 

Join a solar community of shared values eager to do the right thing. Every step by every person will help us move closer to the dream we share of a world that draws our energy from the sun. Let’s clear the air! 

[1] https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43895

[2] https://thehill.com/policy/defense/536188-pentagon-declares-climate-changes-a-national-security-issue