Village looks to renewable energy study

July 24, 2019

Amber Gerber

The Courier

Large cities are not the only ones looking to become more energy-conscious as Marshall signed a contract during its July 9 meeting with Slipstream, a company focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Village Administrator Adam Ruechel said the community has been looking into different types of renewable energies and what would make the most sense for the municipality.

“Obviously, we’re a small municipality so when you’re looking at what Dane County is doing as a region, you can see Madison, Middleton and Monona are very focused on renewable energy,” he said.

Ruechel said Marshall had been working with Dane County’s new Office of Energy and Climate Change Director Keith Reopelle who informed the village the public service commission (PSC) had an Office of Energy Innovation Municipal Energy Planning grant to fund renewable energy research.

The village partnered with six larger communities to apply last year for the grant and earlier this year the group was awarded $250,000 (half the amount it requested). The PSC has chosen to work with Slipstream for the renewable energy studies funded by the grant.

According to the village administrator, Slipstream will collect data through the remainder of the year to create a renewable energy blueprint, identify what type renewable energy projects are possible, offer steps the village can take, and provide guidance. The company will also offer the same scope services to the six other communities who share the grant with Marshall.

“This is just to get the idea rolling. There’s always discussion between these municipalities of we all have TIF (tax incremental finance) districts, are there incentives that you give to developers to help create more development where there is renewable energy, where they’re putting in solar or there’s always talk about when there’s electric vehicles,” Ruechel said. “It’s just a broad range of topics they’re trying to do.”

Once Slipstream presents its plan to the village, likely in early 2020, the community can then decide if it would like to move forward with any of the suggestions. If Marshall does decide to take action, it could apply for a second PSC grant that would help fund renewable energy projects.

The village has already taken some steps toward renewable energy when more than a decade ago it installed three solar panels near the wastewater treatment plant. Ruechel explained the energy from the panels is sold the WE Energies and the village receives a credit from the company.

“Our hope is that we create a blueprint that other smaller municipalities can look at … The bigger municipality, they have more of a pot to play with so they are able to do more energy-focused things where a smaller municipality is always struggling with a small budget and trying to make everything match up,” Ruechel said.

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