In February of 2010, Jim Peglow, Chairman of the Town of Dayton at that time, requested an investigation into the practicality of installing solar panels on the roof of the Town Hall to save electrical energy and related costs. Jane Haasch, a Dayton resident and also a member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, reviewed the energy use at the Town Hall. She learned that the Town Hall used just over 8000 kilowatt-hours annually at a cost of about $1100 per year.
The town board was informed that the financial benefits of such a solar system are two-fold. When energy is needed by the Town Hall, that energy is most often provided by the Town’s solar panels. This saves in energy costs throughout the calendar year. The electrical utility supplements energy needs in the winter months when the sun is not sufficiently available to meet Town Hall needs. In the sunny months, excess energy is produced, and that energy is sold to the electrical utility resulting in a negative electrical bill for about eight months of the calendar year.
The total price of the system was roughly $35,000. This price included the panels, an inverter that interfaces the panels to the electrical grid, and installation charges. Taking advantage of financial assistance that was available from Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Public Service, the remaining cost to the Town of Dayton was approximately one-third of the total price. Panels are guaranteed for at least twenty-five years. With the prospect of continually rising energy prices, the Town of Dayton decided to proceed with the installation.
A 7.4 Kw rooftop system with a potential of producing 9480 kwh was installed in September of 2010. In 2012, the first complete year, over 10,000 kwh of electrical energy were produced, over 25% more energy than is used by the Town Hall. Since installation, the Town of Dayton has reduced electrical costs from an $1,100 annual expense to a credit of almost $600. Dayton is planning to construct a storage building in 2013. Orienting the building so that future solar can be added is a forward-looking step that makes sense. The cost of solar panels continues to drop, so additional panels are likely to be much less expensive than the panels originally installed. In line with these decisions, Dayton signed a Sustainability Resolution with Working Together for Waupaca County which is approaching all the governmental bodies in the County.
For more information, please visit the Power Plant Page which provides detailed information about the operation of the Town of Dayton’s solar power plant.