Dane County recognized as a national leader in solar power – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Dane County was recognized on Monday as a national leader in solar energy.

The county became the first in the U.S. to receive SolSmart Platinum designation for “encouraging the growth of clean, affordable solar energy at the local level.”

SolSmart is a national recognition and no-cost technical assistance program created by the U.S. Department of Energy that assists local governments in implementing and improving access to solar energy. The tiered bronze-silver-gold-platinum recognition system seeks to motivate communities in their solar energy endeavors.

Four local communities worked together to achieve Dane County’s Platinum designation. The villages of McFarland and Mount Horeb and the cities of Middleton and Sun Prairie joined forces with the county’s Office of Energy & Climate Change and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, the county shared in a news release.

Sun Prairie leads the way with nearly 275 solar installations and a map of installations in the community. McFarland and Mount Horeb each boast just over 100 installations, according to the county.

Dane County “undertook innovative actions to support solar energy for all residents within its jurisdiction,” SolSmart said. That included work to connect local governments with solar resources, providing solar financing options for residents, supporting solar installation on multifamily housing within the community, working with a regional organization on solar incentives and resources, installing solar on county-owned facilities, and more.

In 2023, Dane County became the first county in Wisconsin to achieve 100% renewable offset electricity, according to the county’s release.

According to the Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change, more than 4,150 rooftop and ground-mounted solar arrays serve households in the county. These generate about 2% of the county’s residential electric usage. 

How do I learn more about solar energy in my Dane County community?

The county’s Platinum designation requires it to post information and metrics on solar energy infrastructure installed in the county. These can be found on the Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change website.

The county also shared this map of solar installations within the cities of Madison and Milwaukee created by a Madison resident.

More:Not interested in rooftop solar? Here’s how Wisconsinites can tap clean power on the cheap.

More:‘It can be done’: Why this group renovates distressed properties into affordable, energy-efficient homes

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