Madison College's Fort Atkinson and Reedsburg campuses going solar

Madison College's Fort Atkinson and Reedsburg campuses going solar.

Let the sunshine in.

When crews finished installing more than 5,700 solar panels at Madison College's Truax campus last year, it became the largest rooftop solar energy system in Wisconsin. Now the college is working on two new solar photovoltaic projects at its Fort Atkinson and Reedsburg campuses.

The Reedsburg campus is receiving a 100-kilowatt system, which will provide about half of the electricity used by the campus. The Fort Atkinson campus' 150-kilowatt system will produce roughly the same amount of electricity that the school consumes - making it a net-zero electrical facility. Together, the two systems are expected to produce more than 310,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, saving the district about $30,000 a year in utility costs. 

β€œThe monitoring systems included with the project will allow our renewable energy students to learn about data visualization and predictive analytics,” said Ken Walz, science and engineering instructor at Madison College and director of the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education. "These advanced skills are increasingly being sought after by employers in the energy sector."

Students enrolled in the related fields of architecture, construction, engineering, electrical apprenticeship, industrial maintenance and environmental science will also benefit from having access to the PV installations. In addition, the college intends to make the systems available for campus visits from local K-12 school groups and the general public.

The estimated total cost of the two systems is $425,000. The project is being funded in part by grants from the WPPI Renewable Energy for Non-Profits Program, the Focus on Energy Renewable Incentive Program and the Solar on Schools Program supported by the Couillard Solar Foundation. The remainder of the costs are being paid by Madison College.

Weather permitting, the solar projects are expected to begin in September.

Madison College serves more than 33,000 students throughout a 12-county district in south-central Wisconsin, offering nearly 180 diverse career programs, diplomas and certificates. Its mission is to provide open access to quality higher education that fosters lifelong learning and success in the communities it serves. Madison College is the second-largest institution in the Wisconsin Technical College System.