In 2017, McMillan Memorial Library installed one of the largest solar projects in Central Wisconsin, a 235 kW / 470 panel system that produces the equivalent of enough electricity for twenty-five average homes. The project had a total cost of $420,000 and was funded by a private / public partnership. Most of the power will be used immediately on site, but McMillan will sell about 1/3 of the power to the municipal power company, Water Works & Lighting, providing the community with locally produced green power. We have an album of photos and videos on Facebook, including drone footage. To support the Library and renewable energy, visit our donation page.
The project was funded by a public / private partnership:
- Viking Electric served as both contractor and tax sponsor for the project. They funded 70% of the cost, oversaw the installation and owns the solar array for the first six years. During this time, they will sell the electricity produced to the Library at a reduced rate and benefit from various tax credits. Viking Electric is owned by Lincoln High School graduate Scott Prahl. Prahl became interested in the project as a means of benefitting the community he grew up in and the Library he used as a youth.
- The Library Endowment Fund made a down payment on the eventual purchase. The Endowment exists to undertake projects that benefit the Library but that are above and beyond the regular budget. The Endowment consists of funds donated to the Library over many years by community members and organizations.
- Once the tax credits are expired, the Library will purchase the project, for about 30% of the original cost. The Library is fundraising this amount and already has a major donor, who will match all donations. Donations can be made at online, at the Business office, or at any service desk.
No City operational or capital funding was involved in this project, though there was incidental Library operational funding. Library, City, and Water Works & Lighting staff helped in the development, evaluation and implementation of the project.
“We are very excited about this project” said Library Director Andy Barnett. “Finding a solid private partner to bear utilize the tax credits was the key to the project. Scott and Viking Electric bring a great deal of expertise to the project and we look forward to working with them.”
Mayor Zach Vruwink noted “As the first and only solar installation on a city building, we’re thrilled to advance our desires to be more sustainable- operationally to save taxpayers money and environmentally by introducing more renewable energy- all the while, offering an educational opportunity to our community.”
Since 2017, the system has produced 800,000 kWh. In 2018, it produced 60% of McMillan's electric usage. As we implement more energy conservation strategies, this should increase.