Milwaukee Shines, the City of Milwaukee's solar program, works to expand solar energy use through a comprehensive, citywide approach. Milwaukee Shines helps create cleaner air for our community and helps reduce energy costs for the City and the community at large. Milwaukee Shines is a project of the Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO), formerly the Office of Environmental Sustainability, and partners with community partners to build a clean energy future. Past projects have been funded through the US Department of Energy Solar America Communities and SunShot programs.
When Milwaukee Shines formed in 2008, the City of Milwaukee was named one of 25 Solar America Cities by the U.S. Department of Energy, and earned the distinction again in 2009. Since then, Milwaukee has streamlined the permitting process, created a solar zoning ordinance, reduced solar permit fees, and began providing financing resources for home and business owners.
As of January 2020, there are more than 4.5 MW of solar energy installed on Milwaukee homes and businesses -- which has exceeded the City's goal of 1 MW of solar capacity.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about having solar installed in your home or business, or to find out more about replicating Milwaukee Shines' processes and projects in your municipality.
Milwaukee is a SolSmart City!
SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, awarded a Gold designation to recognize Milwaukee as a national leader in advancing solar energy.
As a SolSmart Gold designee, Milwaukee received national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that Milwaukee “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.
To achieve designation, Milwaukee took steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
We are committed to reducing solar energy costs at the local level and encouraging even more homes and businesses to use this clean, affordable energy source!
Pictured here: City of Milwaukee Sustainability Director, Erick Shambarger, Mayor Tom Barrett, Suzanne Hanson from the City's Permit Office, Elizabeth Hittman from Milwaukee Shines & Department of Neighborhood Services Commissioner Preston Cole accept the SolSmart Gold Award. Milwaukee was one of the first 13 cities in the U.S. to receive the Gold designation. Being a solar-friendly City is a team effort between the Mayor's office, the Environmental Collaboration Office, and our permitting and inspection staff!
What's New at Milwaukee Shines:
Follow this link to the page with resources for solar professionals. You can find information on solar zoning in the City of Milwaukee, a checklist of what to submit for a solar permit as well as links for scheduling inspections and interconnection. We are also pleased to annouced new, lower solar permit fees! We are working hard to make installing solar in the City of Milwaukee easier and more affordable.
Note: We will not have a solar group buy program in 2020 due to COVID-19. We hope to have a program in 2021. If you would like information on qualified installers in the Milwaukee area, please contact us!
Milwaukee Shines partners with the renewable energy non-profit the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) 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.
Please visit the Milwaukee Solar Group Buy page for more info!
Milwaukee Shines has partnered with Summit Credit Union to offer up low-interest solar loans for Milwaukee homeowners!
This financing can help make solar a reality! For more information on the Milwaukee Shines solar loan as well as a step-by-step guide on how to apply for this loan, please visit the Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing page.
The WI Public Service Commission has approved We Energies' proposed charges for solar installations and increased fixed rates for 2015-2016.
Some good news for solar customers, however, is that in October of 2015 a Dane County Circuit Judge ruled that the state Public Service Commission did not have enough evidence to back up its decision to impose the monthly solar surcharge. Read about this decsion and how the rate case impacts existing and future solar installations.
To date, the City has invested in 12 renewable energy projects, including solar electric, solar hot water, and a wind turbine. Milwaukee Shines has also partnered on a number of community projects including the solar flower in Milwaukee's Garden District, and we hosted a Solar School Swap. We're looking forward to seeing more solar projects in Milwaukee!
For more information on the City's solar installations and commuinty projects, please visit the Solar In Milwaukee page of our website.
Milwaukee Solar Related News
- Three Efforts that Showcase Wisconsin's Solar Energy Expansion - MKE Public Radio - Nov 9, 2017
- Wisconsin's Renewable Energy Climate - NPR News in Milwaukee - July 17, 2016
- Buying in bulk: Group effort helps bring down solar costs - Milwaukee Journal Sentiniel - July 14, 2016
- Radio Intervew with Tom Crawford at WMSE on Solar Group Buy - 91.7 WMSE May 2, 1016
- Milwaukee's Solar Group Buy is Expanding - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - April 22, 2016
- Ed Begley Jr. Issues Challenge to Wisconsin on Clean Energy - Midwest Energy News - April 18, 2016
- Milwaukee Homeowners Focus on Solar Despite Rising Utility Fees -WUWM MKE Public Radio, July 10, 2015
- Will the East Side Go Solar? - Urban Milwaukee - May 26, 2015
- New Solar Flower Goes Up in Milwaukee Neighborhood - Wisconsin Public Radio - May 9, 2015
- New Solar-Powered Flower Blooms at Garden District Farmers' Market - Fox 6 News - May 8, 2015
- The Solar City: Milwaukee Shines Program Is Paying Off - UrbanMilwaukee.com - July 31, 2014
- Wisconsin Utility Companies Take Aim Against Solar - Milwaukee Business Journal - July 27, 2014
- We Energies Drops Opposition to Groups Joining Rate Case - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - July 26, 2014
- Central Library's Green Roof Takes Root - On Milwaukee - July 25, 2014
- Solar v. Utilities Battles Heating up in Wisconsin, Iowa - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - July 12, 2014
- We Energies Faces Opposition for Proposed Rates - Wisconsin State Journal - June 29, 2014
- Growing Number of Solar Panels a Concern for WI Utilities - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - June 28, 2014
- Riverwest Home Buyer Takes House From 0 to 50 in One Year - Riverwest Currents - May 1, 2014
- New Study on Solar Energy Highlights Milwaukee - Wisconsin Public Radio - April 11, 2014
- Report Highlights City's Solar Efforts, Says More Work Needed - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - April 11, 2014
- Solar Bay View Expands Solar Panel Installation Program - Milwaukee Business Journal - February 21, 2014
- Milwaukee Solar Initiative Hopes to Expand Group Buy Model - MKE Journal Sentinel - February 19, 2014
- Renovation of Foreclosed Duplex results in 'Net Energy Bill of Zero' - Neighborhood News Service Milwaukee - January 16, 2014
- Construction on Milwaukee Public Museum's Solar Wall Begins - Fox 6 Now - July 29, 2013
- Milwaukee Public Museum's Marble Being Replaced by Solar - The Business Journal - July 29, 2013
- Milwaukee Public Museum Adds 234 Solar Panels - WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio 89.7 - July 29, 2013
- Milwaukee Brewing Company Uses Solar Power in Brewing Process - StarTribune - July 27, 2013
- Walnut Way Reveals Plan to Curb Electric Costs - Neighborhood News Service MIlwaukee - July 23, 2013