June 16, 2023

New program brings energy savings to affordable housing

Member Utilities

A program that installs solar panels on newly constructed affordable housing is producing significant energy savings for new homeowners.

Two projects were recently completed in Juneau with help from locally owned Juneau Utilities. Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties constructed both homes along Main Street and strategically placed solar panels to maximize exposure to the sun. The projects supply nearly all the electricity consumption for each of the homes during an average year and both projects are expected to exceed savings of 200,000 kilowatt-hours over their expected 25-year life cycles.

“We are happy to work with Focus on Energy and Habitat for Humanity on these projects,” shared Nick Gahlman, electric superintendent at Juneau Utilities. “Helping our customers to save energy and lower their energy costs is always rewarding, and these projects are examples of what can be accomplished.”

Program is popular across the state

Similar projects were also completed in the Wisconsin communities of New Richmond, Reedsburg, River Falls and Sturgeon Bay. Future solar panel installations are scheduled for new affordable housing projects in Menasha, Stoughton and Sun Prairie. The locally owned utilities where these panels have been installed or are being planned are member-owners of WPPI Energy, a not-for-profit joint action agency made up of 51 member utilities throughout Wisconsin, Iowa and Upper Michigan.

Focus on Energy, Habitat for Humanity and local utilities continue working together to bring energy savings to the new homeowners.

Focus on Energy partnership

Focus on Energy’s Solar for Affordable Housing program was created in 2022. It provides incentives of $1,250 per kilowatt up to a maximum of $8,750 per home. The maximum incentive can cover up to 50% of a solar photovoltaic system installation. The homes must be new construction and either a single-family, duplex, or triplex house to be eligible.

Programs focused on renewable energy help ensure communities are healthier, better places to live and show community members the benefits of renewable energy firsthand. In total, Focus on Energy anticipates spending $1 million on the program.

Installations must be completed and interconnected by Dec. 1, 2024, and are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis.