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Milwaukee Shines Solar Group Buy building community, one solar panel at a timeMilwaukee Solar Group Buys

Milwaukee Shines partners with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance to coordinate neighborhood group buys in the City of Milwaukee. The advantage of a group buy is the power of volume purchasing, which can significantly reduce the upfront costs of installing solar in your home or business.  You do not need to be a City of Milwaukee resident to participate - the group buys are open to all Southeastern Wisconsin residents and business owners.

What is a Solar Group Buy? A solar group buy is when community members form a group and use their collective buying power to save on the total cost of going solar. The program can help residents invest in lower cost solar installations through the power of volume purchasing.

Learn more about the program and find out what neighborhoods are currently participating on the Milwaukee Shines Solar Group Buy page!


Installation of residential rooftop solar panels               Installation of residential rooftop solar panels

Solar panels on a residential rooftop

Step-by-Step Process Guide for Installing Solar on Your Home

  1. Learn about the types of systems available. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) provides information and also holds solar workshops. You can view online videos about solar and how it works on the MREA's Grow Solar website.
  2. If you are interested in financing your system, learn more about the Milwaukee Shines Solar Loan Program for homeowners offered through Summit Credit Union or talk to your bank or credit union about financing for your solar install.
  3. Get two to three bids from qualified solar installers to find the best fit for your needs. Schedule a solar site assessment to help determine which technology is best for your home. A site assessment is when the solar installer comes to your home and talks to you about your budget, looks at your roof and determines how much shading you have on your roof.
    You can find a list of qualified and certified solar installers on the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) website.  MREA also provides a list of Certified Site Assessors. Please note - there may be a fee for the site assessment so be sure to check with the solar installer before schedulding a site assessment.
  4. Make your home or business more energy efficient to maxmize the benefits of solar. The Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) program can help.
  5. Get preapproval of your residential solar loan through Summit Credit Union to keep your project moving forward smoothly. (If you do not need financing, please disregard this step!)
  6. Select your installer and sign the contract. We recommend getting at least 2-3 bids prior to making your final selection. Focus on Energy has information on how to find and choose solar installers that are eligible for incentives.
  7. Work with your installer to make sure you get all the incentives. There are currently state Focus on Energy incentives for homeowners (12% back on the cost of your system up to $2,000) and there is a 30% federal tax credit.
  8. Have your system installed by your solar installer.
  9. Close on your Milwaukee Shines solar loan if you received financing from Summit Credit Union. Contact your loan officer at Summit Credit Union after the project is complete to close on your loan. Summit will then issue the check for payment directly to your installer.
  10. Enjoy the benefits of your new solar system!

Still have questions about solar or how to find a qualified installer? Just contact us...we are here to help!


Aerial photo of residential rooftop home and garage solar panelingPhoto of residential rooftop solar panels Photo of a residential solar panel

Consumer Protection

Record numbers of Americans are using the sun to power their homes. In just the last year, residential rooftop solar has grown more than 65 percent! That means more consumers are sitting down with contractors and salespeople to go solar — facing what could be a complex process.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s consumer protection Trio includes the Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights, the Be Solar Smart Consumer Checklist, and a Resources list. Each one spotlights safeguards and pointers for buyers, government agencies, the industry, retailers and others in the market.

Visit the IREC Consumer Solar Checklist website for more information. Be solar smart!

Milwaukee Shines Solar Loans

Milwaukee Shines has partnered with Summit Credit Union to offer low-interest solar financing for Milwaukee homeowners.

Summit's special loan terms help make your solar energy improvements easier and more affordable than ever. You have the option to finance up to 100% of the costs approved through the Milwaukee Shines program. Loans are available for as little as $1,000 on up to $20,000, with low rates and flexible repayment terms.

Milwaukee Shines Solar Loans: At-A-Glance:

Summit Credit Union and the City of Milwaukee are offering up to $2 million in low-interest solar loans to help Milwaukee homeowners finance your solar energy systems costs.

  • Eligibile Participants: City of Milwaukee homeowners of 1-3 unit, owner-occupied residences
  • Loan Size: Up to $20,000
  • Interest Rate: Low-interest, fixed rate (as low as prime + 1.50%); check today's rates.
  • Terms: Up to 15 years to repay. No penalties for early payment, no fees, no down payments
  • Eligible Projects: Solar electric systems (up to 6 kW), solar hot air, or solar hot water systems (1-8 panels). Must be installed by a Focus on Energy Residential Ally solar installer
  • Eligible Expenses: All equipment, labor, permits, and interconnection fees. Also structural reinforcement and re-roofing expenses if part of the solar project

How it Works: Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Select a solar installer. It is recommended that you get at least two bids. Your solar installer must be a Focus on Energy Residential Ally.
  2. Visit the Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing page.
  3. Apply for your solar loan at Summit Credit Union. Get started!
  4. After your loan has been preapproved, schedule and install your solar project.
  5. Once your project has been completed, contact Summit Credit Union to close on your loan. Summit will issue a check directly to your installer.

Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing          Summit Credit Union

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