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Solar group buys increase in Wisconsin

July 29, 2018

SHELL LAKE, Wis. (AP) — A nonprofit organization in northern Wisconsin is making progress in its plans to expand renewable energy in the region.

At least 75 people have signed contracts with Cheq Bay Renewables to install solar panels on homes and businesses, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . The nonprofit’s group buy program allows for the simultaneous installation of solar panels, which saves money.

“We’re just really excited that there’s been so much interest in our area,” said program manager Amber Vadnais. “To put it in perspective, I think the largest group buy in Wisconsin last year was 335 kW. We were over that by 100 kilowatts.”

Cheq Bay Renewables estimates that an average Wisconsin home needs 6 kilowatts of solar power annually.

The organization has partnered with solar equipment installer Next Energy Solution Inc., Vadnais said. The installations will be done within a 60-mile radius of the Chequamegon Bay area, including Ashland, Washburn and Bayfield.

The partnership lets Next Energy Solution focus on installations rather than sales, said owner Danielle Kelly.

“We can get started on these projects really close to each other and also buy a lot of those materials at the same time,” she said. “We, as an installer, save on labor costs, traveling costs and equipment costs.”

Interest in solar group buy programs is growing, said Nick Hylla, executive director of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

“The contractor saves all of the time of advertising, marketing, educating customers,” said Hylla. “Then, with such a large volume of purchasing, they get to plan out their build schedule, and it just works for them.”

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

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