Solar energy is starting to shine a little more brightly in Lindsay Heights.
Four organizations in the neighborhood have installed solar-energy systems in the last two years: LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club, Shalom High School, Cross Lutheran Church and Prince Hall apartments.
Cross Lutheran Church, 1821 N. 16th St., had its 11.04 kilowatts solar photovoltaic system installed on the roof and awning last February. According to SunVest, a renewable energy solution organization located at Waukesha that advises the church, the panels can be expected to produce 13,888 kilowatts in energy every year. The church should save approximately $1,750 on its We Energies electric bill during the first year, according to SunVest.
Johnson Hunter, the church’s facility maintenance manager, says the building uses a lot of energy for its community clinic and weekly meal program. “We are trying to be as efficient as we can be,” said Hunter, “to get as much energy as we can at the cheapest cost.”
LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club, 2739 N. 15th St., started using a solar hot-water system to heat its swimming pool in June 2010. The club’s 24 panels produce almost 3,000 therms per year, which will reduce energy costs. “We simply purchase less hot water since we make our own with the panels,” said Jacqueline Zeledon, the communications manager.
According to Zeledon, the solar panels at LaVarnway and one other club, the Don & Sallie Davis Boys & Girls Club at 1975 S. 24th St., will save the organization more than $445,000 over the next 30 years compared to heating with natural gas.
And in the near future, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation plans to install three residential solar hot-water systems on North 16th Street. “These will all be on multifamily buildings,” said Jeremy Davis, Lindsay Heights energy conservation coordinator. “A typical family of four can expect to save about $400 per year in gas costs.”
Local residents can pay to have solar-energy systems installed, but Davis recommends caution. “The first step is to speak to a professional who can provide a solar site assessment to determine the viability, size and cost of a solar system,” he said. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) provides a list of certified solar site assessors.
“A community spending less on utilities has more financial freedom, giving the community more options to spend and invest their money,” added Davis.
To view solar installation sites and see real-time energy production data from We Energies, click here.