Solar panels: Photo taken by Faith Huey
By Faith Huey, UW Stout Harvey Hall News Service
In fall of 2021, the Menomonie school district had ambitious plans to install a solar panel array at Menomonie Middle School in order to cut energy costs.
The decision was made by the Menomonie school district after a thorough analysis of the electricity used at the middle school. This was the go ahead for the plan for a solar photovoltaic (PV) system back in 2021.
Some residents were curious about the array when seeing the construction of it take place last summer, including Cody Reimer who lives nearby.
“At first I thought the collection of materials were for bleachers, maybe for the soccer fields,” Reimer said. “Then, when the solar panels were put up, I wondered if it was just for the middle school or if they were going to tap into the grid and supply power to other places.”
After discovering that the materials were solar panels, Reimer mentioned how he was happily surprised, being in favor of renewable and green energy.
“It sends a good message to our community and the students about stewardship of the planet, care for the environment, and progress in the fight against climate change,” Reimer said.
The Director of Buildings and Grounds for the Menomonie school district, Kevin Tomaszewski, mentions the additional benefit of how the solar array will save the school enough money so the expenses going towards the array will be paid off over time.
“The solar array will not entirely power the school; however, it is predicted to reduce our energy consumption to a level that the system will pay for itself in a relatively short time frame, or approximately eight years,” Tomaszewski said.
If all goes according to plan, the solar array will save the district around $12,000 to $14,000 in utility expenses annually, not to mention the additional benefit of using renewable energy.
The array was expected to be built and fully-functioning by now, however, according to Tomaszewski, but there was a major disruption in supply chains for electrical components that have prevented the system from starting operation.
Tomaszewski states that they expect the solar array to go live sometime this spring.