Monona Grove School District shows off solar array it says is largest on K-12 school in Wisconsin

MONONA, Wis. — The Monona Grove School District cut the ribbon Saturday on a large solar array it says is the largest to be installed on a K-12 school in Wisconsin.

The array covers roughly two-thirds of the roof of Monona Grove High School. When fully operational, the district expects it will generate about half of the school’s electricity.

Peter Sobol, the chair of Monona Grove’s Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee, said the district applied for and received a $300,000 grant from the state’s Public Service Commission to help cover some of the project’s costs. The district borrowed roughly $1 million to pay for the rest of the array.

The project, he said, will more than pay for itself over its 30-year life. It will be cash flow positive in the first year, and over 30 years, the district expects it will save them $1.5 million in energy costs.

“There’s no downsides to this decision to do this,” Sobol said. “It saves money, it’s good for the environment, it’s a positive message for students, it’s an educational message for students.”

One of those students is sophomore Krishna Elwell, a student member on the committee. He said the project makes him feel hopeful about the future.

“This feels really inspiring that we actually can do something, and I have a lot of confidence that when people see these solar panels, they’ll feel the same way I do,” he said.

Students, Sobol added, aren’t the only ones who can learn from the district’s example.

“We believe that we have designed this project, we are doing this project in a way that any school district in the state of Wisconsin can do (it),” he said. “We want to be a model that other school districts can learn from.”

The panels are set to be fully installed by graduation, with the project coming online sometime in the summer.

Learn more about the project here.