Solar for WI K-12 Schools: Resource Center
We've collected resources and put together video content with the intent to assist school administrative teams, boards, staff, students, facilities crew, or other school affiliates (“Solar Planning Teams”) throughout all stages in the solar project development process. We present information about the technology, site analysis, project finance, and procurement strategies used to deliver on-site solar. You can use the resources from start to finish or you can select certain section a la carte, based on your school's needs. Email email@example.com with any questions. Thanks for joining us!
Fundamental Resources for a WI School Solar Project
- Dr. Ronald Russ, Superintendent Merton Community School District - Located in Waukesha County, Merton just completed installation of a 389 kW DC PV system in November 2019, which is largely financed through a low-interest loan and is expected to save the district $70,000 in energy costs each year.
- Andy Weiland, Business Administrator, Oregon School District - The district has had several PV systems on various schools for several years, and is now planning to incorporate a solar PV system over 500kW into new construction of a net zero elementary school
- Lee Black, Buildings & Grounds Director, Darlington Community School District - In January 2016, the district completed the installation of a 156 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of their elementary middle school building. The system is expected to generate approximately 200,000 kWh of electricity per year, or about 19% of the entire district’s use, saving them about $12,500 in usage charges and roughly $3,250 in demand charges.
- Merton Community School District (2019) - 389kW DC - installed on both Merton Intermediate and Merton Primary, saving the district $70,000 annually.
- Oregon School District (2020) - 649kW DC on Forest Edge Elementary School, the first net-zero school in WI.
- Madison Area Technical College (2018) - 1.85 MW
- Darlington Elementary/Middle School (2015)- 156 kW
- Northland Pines School District: Elementary, Middle, & High School (2017) - 331 total kW
- NABCEP Certified Installer Locator (website) - online database of professional certified solar installers
- MREA Business Member Directory (website) - list of our business members, searchable by PV installer, among other categories
- Focus on Energy Trade Allies (website) - searchable database of contractors and service providers who partner with Focus to deliver energy efficiency and renewable energy products and expertise to WI residents and businesses.
After gaining a basic understanding of your school's energy use and utility information, the next step in developing a PV project is conducting an assessment of your site (i.e. determining potential location(s) for a PV system and identifying other electrical and structural information). This module discusses common best practices and resources that site assessors utilize to prioritize and select ideal sites for PV development. Please watch the module videos to gain an understanding of the role that site assessments play in the PV development process. Then, use the resources to internally conduct your own site assessment, collecting information on your school's potential PV site(s) to be included in your RFP.
NOTE: It is not necessary to have an outside party conduct a site assessment. It is also not necessary to internally do any of this work either before developing your RFP. However, doing this work ahead of time, and including this information on your RFP makes it much easier for a company to develop a bid for your school and will help you receive quality bids.
The purpose of this 13 minute topic short is to explain how site assessments are utilized to help identify options for solar array placement. This topic short will give an overview of the site assessment process by answering the following questions:
- What is a site assessment?
- What does the process look like?
- Why is a site assessment needed?
- What is my responsibility to the site assessment?
- How could a site assessment impact my PV project?
Featuring: Nick Matthes, MREA Solar Project Manager
This 9 minute topic short will explore the process of how a site assessor will identify opportunities for your school's solar array placement. It will walk you through site selection through the lens of considerations for utility interconnection, project development, construction, zoning, and other related issues.
Featuring: Nick Matthes, MREA Project Manager
The purpose of this 6 minute topic short is to explain the site selection process specific to your school's electricity consumption and production potential. It will explore evaluating each potential site's energy consumption, projecting site production, and modeling of system design.
Featuring: Nick Matthes, MREA Project Manager
- Solar Ready Building Design: A Summary of Technical Considerations (website)- list of basic technical considerations put together by NREL
- Installing Solar on a Flat Roof (website)- Article by EnergySage discussing common flatroof PV considerations
- PV Watts - an NREL tool to help you determine a general system size, production, and solar irradiance at a particular site. For more help using this tool, please see PV101.
- Commercial PV Site Assessment Guidance Document - this will help guide you in finding out information about your own school site. The more information you can collect and include in your RFP, the better.
- Site Visit Data Collection Form - use this to help you collect information on your school and potential site(s) for your PV system
- Commercial PV Site Assessment Report - this gives you an idea of what a formal site assessment would look like and how it simply uses site information to design and determine PV system(s)
This eight-hour course demonstrates how to perform a PV site assessment for a home or small business, using the MREA PV Site Assessment Report Template. If your school is interested in conducting your own site assessment, this free access course will do just that by covering site assessments more in depth, using MREA's site assessment templates.