OneEnergy Serves Up Module Donations in Ashland, Wisconsin

November 03, 2020

OneEnergy Renewables has always maintained a strong commitment to improving communities through clean energy. Recently, we took our dedication a step further by launching a module donation program focused initially on regions where OneEnergy has constructed one or more of its projects.

It made sense to start in Ashland, Wisconsin, where OneEnergy recently completed the 1 Megawatt (MW) Ore Dock Community Solar Project for Xcel Energy and its customers. Our team made some inquiries to local partners and it wasn't long before two local candidates emerged—nonprofits that were eager to “go solar.” The BRICK Ministries and New Day Advocacy Center are now in the final phases of installing solar photovoltaic systems on their facilities, a move that is estimated to save these organizations hundreds of dollars in monthly utility costs, freeing up resources to pursue their core missions.

"We need to go beyond developing large-scale solar projects and give back to the communities where our projects are located. We are committed to broadening access to and delivering the benefits of renewable energy via donations, education, and awareness," said Maria Zupan, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee chairperson at OneEnergy.

Located in the Chequamegon Bay area of western Lake Superior, the BRICK Ministries and New Day Advocacy Center fill a huge need in their communities. The BRICK serves predominantly low-income working families, including veterans and tribal members, and is best known for its Food Shelf and Benevolence programs. New Day Advocacy Center provides free confidential services, including shelter and crisis intervention, for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

Both organizations had considered solar installations in the past to reduce utility expenses and to generate clean energy. But the timing wasn't ideal, as the nonprofits had roofs in need of repair and had purchased or recently moved into newly renovated facilities. Financially strained, they decided the solar would have to wait. That all changed when Eric Udelhofen reached out from OneEnergy Renewables' Madison office.

OneEnergy had 35 solar modules it wanted to donate to a worthy Ashland nonprofit. The modules were left over from the construction of the Ore Dock project, and OneEnergy wanted this surplus equipment to be put to good use. Udelhofen approached Cheq Bay Renewables, a local advocacy group committed to advancing renewable energy in the region, and they in turn put OneEnergy in touch with the BRICK and New Day Shelter and also helped with raising additional funds to cover the costs of each system.

In the end, OneEnergy was able to offer the BRICK 17 PV panels, which would generate 5.53 kW of electricity. The BRICK's leadership recognized that due to economies of scale, the project's output could be increased by 100% at a cost increase of only 69%. The project has since grown to an 11.38kW installation, which will generate a 25 year savings of $58,500 and supply one third of the organization's electrical needs.

The donated modules are being installed by Jolma Electric, a local solar contractor who has partnered with OneEnergy in the past. This installation, which will be mounted to an awning along the south façade of the BRICK’s facility, will be highly visible along Ellis Avenue as visitors enter Ashland from the north.

New Day Advocacy Center, located across the street from the Brick, received the remaining 18 PV panels, which are roof-mounted, and its solar electrical system is now complete and producing power. Based on projections, the solar installation should produce 7,046 kWh/year, which will save the organization over $1,000 a year in utility costs.

The BRICK and New Day Advocacy Center will benefit from these installations for years to come. In addition to the positive environmental benefits, the savings gained from “going solar” will free up operating revenue that can now be put towards programming and helping support the organizations' humanitarian missions. OneEnergy hopes to strengthen its module donation program and will continue to seek out opportunities to share this technology and promote our vision of a clean energy future.

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