Solar Puts Homeowners Near Net Zero Carbon for Electricity Plus Tranportation

It took a while, but Sherrie Gruder and Wayne Harris are finally getting what they’ve been working toward for months– a 7 kW ground mount bifacial solar array for their home. They began the process of financing their array at the end of summer last year, through Legacy Solar Co-op’s 2020 Western Dane County Group Buy program. Because a group buy brings in many potential solar customers, the installer, Eagle Point Solar, offered discounts on labor and volume discounts on materials. The homeowners will take advantage of the extended 26% federal solar investment tax credit, and $500 incentive from Wisconsin Focus on Energy as well to bring the price down to under $14,000.

The 18 panel array itself was built in a matter of days, but Gruder and Harris first had to get support from Westport officials and the homeowners association to approve their permit for the 30-foot ground mount system, the first one to be built in the small community. By the time the system was permitted, the ground was frozen so the electric lines couldn’t be trenched in.

Dane County, the state of Wisconsin and the federal government are all committed to transitioning to generating 100% clean electricity with zero carbon emissions. Supporting that commitment is a Wisconsin state statute that assures a citizen’s right to install solar on their home or business, something local communities or homeowners’ associations can’t override. But sometimes the approval process can be complicated; and, solar installers won’t move ahead without the permits.

This solar array will provide half of the electricity used in their home plus charge two cars (an EV and a plug-in hybrid), electric utility vehicle, and pond pumps. Already, they buy the other 50% of their electricity from Solar Shares – MGE’s community solar program. Sherrie and Wayne shared, “We’re excited that we could put this solar array on our property since we couldn’t install it on our roof. Now our electricity and most of our transportation fuel will come from clean energy in this personal step to help safeguard our grandchildren’s future”.

Drone photo by Daniel Roeth, Field Engineering Specialist, Eagle Point Solar. 

A 7kW ground mount bifacial solar PV array is installed at a house in Westport WI as part of the western Dane County solar group buy. The panels generate electricity from the underside as well, especially with reflectance from snow. Legacy Solar Coop managed the group buy program and Eagle Point Solar designed and installed the system. Wiring is put in a trench from the array’s inverter to the house then run to the electric panel and outside meter. The 18 panels were tested and produced 7.2kW of the 7.6kW capacity as soon as the sun came out from a cloud.
Photos courtesy of Sherrie Gruder