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Walden III Students Raise Money for Solar Energy at Veterans Village


On Wednesday, February 6, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin celebrated the installation of a 19.8-kilowatt solar array at the SC Johnson Community Center with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. Contributing partners RENEW Wisconsin, Walden III High School and installer Arch Electric also shared in the celebration. 

Plymouth-based Arch Electric installed nearly 60 solar panels atop the Veterans’ Community Center in October. This building gives veterans access to a full-sized kitchen with food pantry, a laundry room, restrooms with showering facilities and a recreation area where the residents can socialize. In addition to providing the Community Center with electricity, the solar array also powers the 15 tiny-homes at the Veterans Village. These tiny homes provide the veterans with a television, a small storage space and their own beds.

Veterans Outreach worked with multiple partners to complete the project, including Walden III Middle and High School, a school that focuses on the environment and sustainability. The Walden students raise more than $9,000 for the solar project. The students also held an online auction which contributed an additional $20,000 to the Veteran’s fundraising efforts!

“Community service and environmental sustainability are core values at Walden III,” said Tom Rutkowski, a former teacher at Walden. “Through their organizing efforts and fundraising for the Veterans Village, Walden students were able to help the veterans by providing energy for many years while lowering the carbon footprint of the village.”

By raising over $20,000 for the project, the students’ efforts also triggered a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. In addition to the Solar for Good grant, the Veterans’ project was also awarded a Focus on Energy prescriptive grant. Veterans Outreach paid for the rest of the project with their own funding, costs they plan to recoup through offset electricity bills.

The nearly 20-kilowatt array will cut the organization’s electric use by 85% and will save the organization almost $4,000 in annual utility costs. The array has already produced over 2,600 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity and will continue to operate for another 25 to 30 years.