Solar Panels on a Building

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Welcome to the Milwaukee Shines Solar Program

The Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) is committed to reducing solar energy costs at the local level and encouraging even more homes and businesses to use this clean, affordable energy source. Milwaukee Shines works to expand solar energy use through a comprehensive, citywide approach, creating cleaner air for our community and helping to reduce energy costs for the City and the community at large.

When Milwaukee Shines was 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 provided financing resources for home and business owners.

 

  • How To Get Started
  • Milwaukee Solar Projects
  • Awards

Three men wearing safety gear in front of a home with solar being installed

 

Learn more about having solar installed in your home or business, or about replicating Milwaukee Shines' processes and projects in your municipality:

 

Solar on a City Building

 

Solar projects have helped reduce energy consumption in City of Milwaukee facilities like libraries and fire stations and in commercial corridors, schools, businesses, and homes. 

As of December 2021, there are more than 10.22 megawatts of solar energy installed on Milwaukee homes and businesses. By now, the City's goal of 1 megawatt of solar capacity has far been exceeded.

Learn more about solar projects being installed across Milwaukee.

Solsmart Gold DesignationThe U.S. Department of Energy has recognized Milwaukee as a national leader in advancing solar energy with a Gold designation through its SolSmart program. Milwaukee was one of the first 13 cities in the U.S. to receive the Gold designation. 

Milwaukee was awarded for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that Milwaukee is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.

To achieve the designation, Milwaukee has taken 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. These include: planning and zoning, permitting, financing, customer acquisition, and installation labor. Soft costs represent about two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. 

Find Resources to Go Solar

  • Solar Group Buy Program
  • Low-Interest Solar Loan Information
  • Resources for Solar Professionals

 

Solar Panels on a Rooftop     Solar panels on a homeowner's roof

Join others in exercising your collective buying power to save on the total cost of going solar. A solar group buy occurs when community members form a group to invest in lower cost solar installations through the power of volume purchasing.

2021 was the most successful year for the Greater Milwaukee Solar Group Buy Program to date:

  • Participants: 62 homeowners and 2 businesses
  • Solar Insalled: 421 kilowatts
  • Emissions Offset: 388,239 pounds of coal burned annually
  • Money Saved: $41,000/year in electric bills

Sign Up for a Solar Group Buy 

View of solar panels on a house from up high     Solar Panels on a Roof 

Make solar a reality for your home with this step-by-step guide to apply for financing through Summit Credit Union. Up to $2 million in low-interest solar loans are available to help Milwaukee homeowners finance solar energy systems costs.

  • Eligible 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 water systems (1-8 panels) or solar hot air.
  • Must be installed by a Focus on Energy Residential Ally solar installer
  • Eligible Expenses: All equipment, labor, permits, and interconnection fees. Solar loans can also be used for structural reinforcement and re-roofing expenses if these upgrades are part of the solar project.

Apply for a Low-Interest Solar Loan 

workers laying out solar panels   Professionals Installing Solar Panels on a Roof

 

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. Milwaukee Shines is committed to making installing solar in Milwaukee easier and more affordable. Professionals now have access to new, lower solar permit fees.

Find Resources for Solar Professionals

 

Partners


 

Rise Up Midwest

ECO is a proud supporter of the Rise Up Midwest Initiative working to make the Midwest a global leader in clean energy 

U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Project funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Communities and SunShot programs

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Logo

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

Reference the NABCEP List of Certified Solar Professionals to contact a professional for a solar site assessment

Milwaukee Shines, Eco City of Milwaukee Logos

City of Milwaukee Sustainability Director Erick Shambarger

@Erick Shambarger
Sustainability Director

Biography


 City Hall, 200 E. Wells Street, Room 603, Milwaukee, WI 53202 


 Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

In the News


Solar Energy is Helping to Cut Energy Costs in Both Urban and Rural Settings

TMJ4 - November 18, 2021

The approach to installing and using solar power is different in rural areas than it is in urban areas. However, people in both settings say the intended outcome is the same.


Milwaukee Celebrates Most Successful Solar Power Group Buy to Date

Milwaukee Courier - November 13, 2021

Many people would agree that solar power is a good thing, but one of the downsides is the cost. Group buy purchases like the one the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office did with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association could be a solution.


Milwaukee City Officials Announce Largest Solar Energy System

Wisconsin Public Radio - March 4, 2020

New solar field will have over 7K solar panels. The 8-acre project will be located close to General Mitchell International Airport, roughly 10 miles from downtown Milwaukee.


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