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Power supplier harnesses sun’s power

Electric customers in Sturgeon Bay who wonder what local utilities are doing about the need for clean, renewable energy don’t have to look farther than community-owned Sturgeon Bay Utilities and its power supplier, Wisconsin Public Power Inc., for one answer. WPPI recently installed two 2.8-kilowatt photovoltaic solar arrays at its Sun Prairie, Wis., headquarters.

“It is our objective, and that of all WPPI member utilities, to be a model for cost-effective conservation initiatives and the efficient use of energy,” says Jim Stawicki, General Manager. “WPPI’s new solar installation demonstrates our commitment to the use of clean, renewable energy.”

Jim Stawicki is a member of the WPPI Board of Directors, which approved the installation of the solar project this summer. WPPI’s solar panels, which became operational this week, are mounted on poles and equipped with sunlight-tracking technology so they can move and tilt with the sun’s path across the sky, increasing the system’s efficiency by as much as 30%.

An affordable, viable option

The installation will provide approximately 9,000 kWh of emissions-free electricity each year, or enough energy to power three energy-conscious homes.

WPPI Energy Services Representative Kurt Pulvermacher says that although WPPI’s system cost approximately $60,000, the average homeowner might spend less than half that for a smaller system. “In addition, federal tax credits and utility incentives for the use of solar can help offset project costs for individuals and businesses,” says Pulvermacher. “Solar technology is a good option for any individual or business interested in reducing their carbon footprint.”

Pulvermacher recommends that electric customers interested in learning more about renewable energy projects should start by contacting their local utility.

Leading the way to conservation

For customers served by WPPI member utilities, solar project funding may now be easier to come by since member utilities of the nonprofit, joint-action agency committed to increase funding for energy efficiency and conservation programs by more than 300 percent.

Other efforts to conserve at WPPI include the purchase of additional green power for the balance of the building’s energy needs, making the building 100% powered by renewable energy. Members and employees have also worked hard to conserve energy in the WPPI building, setting a goal to reduce consumption by 10% in two years. In less than 18 months, they achieved a 15% reduction. The effort earned WPPI’s facility the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious ENERGY STAR®, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy performance.

“We’re working hard to lead by example,” says Jim Stawicki. “The use of renewable energy, whether by installing a solar electric system at home or by purchasing from utility green power programs, is a simple step anyone can take to help create a cleaner energy future.”

Two photovoltaic solar panel arrays have been installed at the headquarters building of our community’s power supplier, Wisconsin Public Power Inc.

Sturgeon Bay Utilities is a member of Wisconsin Public Power Inc., a regional power company serving 49 customer-owned electric utilities. Together, WPPI member utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable, affordable electricity to more than 188,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

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