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RENEW Wisconsin explains new community solar legislation

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:12 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - New community solar legislation would expand renewable energy access, according to RENEW Wisconsin. The bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, and Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, would enable more development of community solar projects in the state. The initiative aims to expand customer choice, help utility customers save money on energy bills and keep energy dollars in Wisconsin. Community solar projects allow businesses, farms, nonprofits, schools and families to access the benefits of affordable solar power without hosting a solar array or making large, up-front payments to install their own solar systems. RENEW references the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that at least 49 percent of households and 48 percent of businesses lack adequate solar rooftops. Community solar participants subscribe to a portion of a locally built solar farm and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced. According to RENEW, 21 states, including Minnesota and Illinois, have already enacted policies that expand the community solar market. The organization argues a few Wisconsin utilities have offered community solar programs, but without a statewide policy, many utility customers here lack access to a solar service.

The DATCP Farm to School & Institution and WI Foods Program is expanding its partnerships coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic as it prepares for the next school year. Program Specialist April Yancer says a pilot will roll out in the fall aiming to create a farm-to-school minimally processed fruit and vegetable line. The pilot is a partnership between DATCP and Midwest Foods. This will process local foods in larger capacities. Midwest Foods is expanding their local food purchasing and moving it through their minimally processed line. Distribution will be statewide. Farm to School initiatives practice and promote the use of locally sourced foods in school meal programs. Key elements of F2S are engaging with procurement, nutrition education and school gardens. Initiatives also provide local food to eaters through institutional kitchens such as corporate and college campuses, hospitals and food banks. In turn, it boosts the regional food system supply chains.

The fair season is continuing with two county fairs this week in the area. Activities will start today at the Eau Claire Exposition Center for the Eau Claire County Fair, which will run through Sunday; the Jackson County Fair will start on Wednesday and run through Sunday in Black River Falls.

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