The City of Wauwatosa first set significant emissions reduction and sustainability goals more than a decade ago and last year installed a solar energy system on the roof of its city hall complex, which is already seeing significant results.
The solar array was completed during the spring of 2021 and has generated 458-megawatt hours of renewable energy for the city, more than half of the site’s total energy usage over that time. It also has reduced carbon emissions by 358 tons.
The renewable energy project covers Wauwatosa’s one-acre city hall complex, which includes its civic center and public library. The 1,036-panel solar array was installed by Wisconsin’s Arch Solar C&I with a 389-kilowatt platform from SolarEdge.
The project also was aided by a $40,000 Wisconsin Focus on Energy grant, which helped the city stay under budget for the solar installation. Arch says the system will save the city $40,000 in energy costs a year as well.
Cities and communities are rapidly expanding renewable energy initiatives. A range of examples includes Regina in Canada aiming to use renewable energy to reach net zero by 2050, the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians installing a microgrid, and North Carolina’s Fort Brag getting a floating solar power plant.
Wauwatosa first made a target to reduce emissions in 2010 with a goal of cutting them in half by 2030, and the city says it wants at least a quarter of its electricity to come from renewable energy by 2025. The city also aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
After smaller projects to get their goals off the ground, such as installing solar at a city garage in 2019, Wauwatosa settled on the city hall solar project as a significant step to make sustainability improvements. The site was chosen in part because of its size, but also because a flat rooftop was ideal for solar panels.
SolarEdge also says its system provides design flexibility to fit the building’s design, and it can be adjusted for greater optimization of the location’s environment. For example, SolarEdge says in Wisconsin panels should be at a greater angle than the industry standard 10 degrees, and they were able to install the Wauwatosa system at 20 degrees.
This all helped maximize the space used for the solar project. The city also launched a live dashboard so that the public can see how much electricity is being generated.