« BACK


Dawn is Near for Eau Claire School Solar Project

school board approves bid to install panels on high schools

Tom Giffey

COMING SOON TO A ROOF NEAR YOU. Solar panels like these could be big energy savings for the Eau Claire school district.
COMING SOON TO A ROOF NEAR YOU. Solar panels like these could be big energy savings for the Eau Claire school district.

The Eau Claire school district is moving ever closer to putting solar panels on the roofs of North and Memorial high schools by the end of the summer. The panels are expected to save the school district about $20,000 in utility costs as well as provide educational opportunities for the schools’ students, says the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation, which has been working on the project since December.

On Monday, July 20, the Eau Claire school board approved a bid for installing two solar arrays featuring 360 panels each on the city’s two public high schools. The winning bid was from Eagle Point Solar, which is based on Dubuque, Iowa, and has offices in Wisconsin.

The project won’t cost district taxpayers a dime: It’s entirely funded through donations to the Solar on Eau Claire Schools Fund, which was launched by the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation.

While final details are being worked out, installation of the panels is expected to be on track for late summer. The project won’t cost district taxpayers a dime: It’s entirely funded through donations to the Solar on Eau Claire Schools Fund, which was launched by the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation.

Half of the solar panels will be donated by the Couillard Solar Foundation, which was created by Memorial alumnus Cal Couillard to help promote solar energy in Wisconsin. The other 360 panels will be paid for by an anonymous donor, contingent upon the installation bid being awarded.

In addition, the Solar on Eau Claire Schools project set out to raise between $250,000 and $275,000 – the estimated cost of installing, racking, and maintaining the solar panels. (As of earlier this summer, private fundraising was close to this figure, although the exact amount needed was uncertain until the bid was approved.) To celebrate Earth Day in April, the Eau Claire-based Pablo Foundation offered to give $45,000 toward the project if other donors matched that amount, which they did; An additional $25,000 pledge from the Pablo Foundation was also matched to the tune to $26,464 by June 5 – the official end of the school year.

Other donations, large and small, have also helped the project: During May and early June, Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor’s Cash for a Cause project – funded by tips from customers – raised more than $1,400 for Solar on Eau Claire Schools.

“We are so grateful for the partnerships of Pablo Foundation and Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor. Their investment inspired and encouraged more community involvement in the solar project, and we are thrilled to be on track for installation,” said Sarah French, the executive director of the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation. “Donors will have an incredible impact for our students!”


Learn more about the project and how you can make a donation by going to www.ecpsfound.org.