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Madison solar installation

Full Spectrum Solar employees install solar on a roof in Madison in the 2016 MadiSUN Solar program.

Did you know that more than 75,000 Wisconsin residents work in clean energy?

When you add up all the Wisconsinites working in jobs such as installing solar panels, managing wind energy projects, manufacturing and installing energy efficient upgrades, and working in advanced transportation, that’s the number, according to the “Clean Jobs Midwest” report released earlier this month.

That’s more than all the waiters and waitresses, computer programmers, lawyers, and web developers in Wisconsin combined, according to Department of Labor employment statistics.

These numbers are impressive, but just as impressive are the stories of some of these workers.

From April to September of 2017, Tim Parker drove bulldozers at the site of the Quilt Block Wind Farm in southwest Wisconsin near Darlington, preparing the ground for the installation of Wisconsin’s newest wind farm.

Brodie Dockendorf moved from Minnesota to Cuba City to become the operations manager of that wind project. April Smith did general labor on the project last year, and said, “I was probably the bread-winner” in the family that summer.

Kim Griffin performs solar site assessments for customers in north-central Wisconsin as an employee of Photovoltaic Systems, a company that’s been installing solar for over 25 years now. “I was looking for a profession with longevity and a good future. That’s why I went with renewables,” she says.

“The best job I’ve ever had,” is how Harry Harir, Midwest regional manager for Appliance Recycling Centers of America, describes his work to help Wisconsin residents save money by recycling their old refrigerators and freezers.

These are just a few examples of Wisconsin’s 75,000-plus-strong clean energy workforce.

There are residents in all 72 Wisconsin counties working in these fields, helping Wisconsin residents and businesses save money while transitioning to a cleaner future.

MadiSUN solar programs creating local solar jobs

Here in Madison, the city’s programs to spur residents and businesses to install solar are one example of the types of initiatives that are creating more jobs in these fields.

MadiSUN’s Residential Solar Group Buy allows residents to get a fixed, discounted price to install solar panels. Eighty area families have “gone solar” in the past two years with the program, and we’re off to a strong start again in 2018. The volume of solar installations through this program has enabled Full Spectrum Solar, one of the solar installation companies, to hire more workers and grow the local solar workforce!

It’s a great time to look at solar. Consider:

• The cost of installing solar is down 75 percent in the past decade.

• A 30 percent federal tax credit lowers your installation cost.

• State Focus on Energy rebates can provide a further incentive for your project with a rebate of 12 percent.

• The city has authorized rebates for homes that are great for solar, but don’t qualify for the Focus on Energy rebates.

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Plus, you’ll be supporting Full Spectrum and Midwest Solar Power, two local solar installation companies.

In addition, MadiSUN Solar for Businesses is encouraging more area businesses to install solar.

On top of the benefits residents receive, businesses can take bonus depreciation on their federal taxes, another 15 percent benefit. The city has authorized rebates up to $4,000 for businesses in Madison to “go solar” this year.

Businesses are seeing paybacks in four to eight years, and strong returns on investments from these projects.

There are at least five Madison-based solar companies who are in the business of helping other businesses install solar: Full Spectrum Solar, H&H Solar, Midwest Solar Power, SunPeak, and SunVest. All have years of experience and successful local projects.

Clean energy jobs are poised to grow in Wisconsin, and you can be a part of the growth. If you’re a resident or member of a business, you can save money on your energy bill while supporting the growth of local clean energy jobs through MadiSUN programs. Check out  to get started!

Tyler Huebner is executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit that promotes and advocates for renewable energy and administers the MadiSUN Solar programs for the city of Madison. The Clean Jobs Midwest report is available at and the worker stories are documented at

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