community solar

UWRF Looks to 'Walk the Talk' With Community Solar

November 13, 2015 -- A new community solar program coming to town is drawing the interest of a neighboring University of Wisconsin campus.

The Community Solar Program, operated by the River Falls Municipal Utilities, will allow residents and businesses in the city to purchase subscriptions to solar panels in a community solar garden.

River Falls is the first city government in Wisconsin to have a community solar program, according to Mike Noreen, conservation and efficiency coordinator for River Falls Municipal Utilities. He said the program gives individuals and businesses an opportunity to invest in renewable energy that was not previously available and builds upon the city's goal of developing a conservation ethic within the community.

"We are always promoting the city, the community as a clean energy alternative, kind of a green community," Noreen said. "This is a good visual reminder that we're clean and that we're progressive and innovative."

The solar garden is under construction at the Sterling Ponds Corporate Park off of Highway 35, north of downtown. A total of 807 solar panels will be installed. So far 60 subscriptions have been purchased since the program started in October, with more coming in daily, according to Noreen. A number of individuals and businesses also have committed to buying subscriptions.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls is one of those commitments, with both the university and Student Senate discussing the possibilities of buying panels.

According to Mike Stifter, executive director of facilities planning and management at UWRF, the university is looking to purchase 15-25 panels in order to "walk the talk" when it comes to working to make the campus more sustainable.

(Courtesy of Natalie Howell/Falcon News Service)

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