Earth Day: More businesses and homes are going solar – WBAY

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – As we celebrate Earth Day, electricians say more and more people are going solar.

Workers are installing rows and rows of solar panels at 4imprint to add to an existing solar array already producing energy.

“From a sustainability standpoint it’s a journey,” Brian Campbell, the 4imprint vice president of supply chain compliance, said.

When the project is complete, there are going to be nearly 5,000 panels.

According to Campbell, the company is noticing some big positives since going solar:

“We definitely saw a reduction in the amount of electricity we had to purchase from the grid and our utility provider and obviously on a nice sunny day… it’s going to generate a lot of the electricity for our facility.”

Eland Electric is behind the installation. Eland’s project manager said there’s a ‘solar boom’ for companies, nonprofits, and homes for a few reasons.

4imprint is taking on solar because sustainability is important to the company. For others, it’s because of rising utility bills.

“I attribute it to the electric cars. If gasoline was 50 cents a gallon I don’t think many people would be driving an electric car. It’s the cost increase that kind of forces people to start looking for alternative options,” project manager Jesse Michalski explained. “They feel that in the pocket book. They feel that when they pay their bills so then it becomes a little bit of an addition to get it as good as it can be. It almost becomes like a game to get the utility bill as small and they can possibly get it.”

There are also some tax incentives.

“Wisconsinites can take advantage of tax credits covering 30% of the cost of solar and battery installation. And for the first time, tax-exempt entities like schools, churches, and non-profits can take advantage of the incentives through a direct payment from the IRS equal to the tax credit… In 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) introduced more than 20 clean energy-related tax credits for everything from solar to efficient heating and cooling systems to insulation, door and window upgrades,” Clean Wisconsin’s communications director told Action 2 News.

The project manager said the array is going to offset 60% to 70% of how much energy 4imprint’s distribution center uses each year.

“People can’t believe how big it is, because you don’t see it around here very often, but yes, you can put solar in Northeast Wisconsin and it does have a positive impact,” Campbell said.

Eland Electric went from doing 3 or 4 solar projects a year to now 3 or 4 a week.

“You know, air-conditioning wasn’t always put in 70 years ago. Not every home had air-conditioning 70 years ago. That was a new thing. I think solar is going to be something where right now it’s new, not everybody’s putting it in, but in 10, 15, 20 years I think it’s just going to be common practice to incorporate,” Michalski said.

Workers are installing rows and rows of solar panels at 4imprint to add to an existing solar array already producing energy.

More businesses, non-profits and homeowners are going solar or trying out other renewable energy options… meaning construction in general is growing.

“People are leaving the trades through retirement than are coming into the trades and more and more projects are asking to be built so we’re busy. We’re always looking for electricians to come help us,” Michalski told Action 2 News.

Not all projects span six acres of land like at 4imprint. Solar is scalable.

“From a sustainability standpoint, it’s a journey. There’s never an endpoint, and you need to continue to push forward and do what we can within our ability to mitigate our impact on the environment,” Campbell said.

Electricians said all of the new panels could be generating energy around mid-June.

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