Renew Wisconsin: Heckrodt Nature Reserve

Menasha, WI – Heckrodt Wetland Reserve will celebrate its recent installation of solar panels on Friday October 26th, at 10:30 AM with solar installer Eland Electric, RENEW Wisconsin, and other local partners. 

Eland Electric completed installation of the 19.6 kilowatt (kW) system in August.  The system has already offset over 5000 pounds of CO2 emissions which is the equivalent of planting 126 trees! The solar system was a true community effort; several organizations provided grant financing and local businesses contributed labor and supplies.

“Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is excited to include energy conservation in our environmental message.  The Renew Wisconsin grant allowed us to greatly increase the size of our solar array, permitting us to practice our Earth Day Every Day message,” said Tracey Koening, Executive Director of Heckrodt Wetland Reserve.

The Heckrodt Wetland Reserve received $10,000 of grant funding from Solar for Good to assist the nonprofit organization with installing solar panels. Solar for Good, an initiative from the renewable energy advocates at RENEW Wisconsin is funded by philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard of Deerfield, WI and additional donors.  Focus on Energy, and WPPI Energy also provided grants to help build the solar array and Eland Electric donated labor for the installation. The remaining balance for the project was funded by grants secured by Heckrodt Wetland Reserve.

Tyler Huebner, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin said, “Heckrodt’s investment in solar power and energy efficiency is an example of how a community can build value by working together.  The partners involved in this project went above and beyond to help reduce Heckrodt’s electricity costs and ensure sustainability for this treasured wetland education center.”

“Heckrodt provides an outstanding educational opportunity to the community on the importance of our natural wetlands and helping them reduce their annual operating costs with renewable energy ensures they can educate the community for years to come,” said Jesse Michalski, Project Manager, Eland Electric.

The installation of the solar array was part of a major exterior upgrade on the nature center. Heckrodt installed a sustainable steel roof, steel siding and trim, conducted a complete LED lighting upgrade, HVAC upgrade, and plans to upgrade the insulation in the nature center. Heckrodt Wetland Reserve strives to be more sustainable in hopes of inspiring others in the community.  Temperature Systems Inc. provided free of charge all the equipment to upgrade the HVAC for Heckrodt and Modern Sheet Metal donated all of the labor and required materials to install the equipment. 

 “These projects not only help customers lower energy costs and educate the community on alternative energy choices, they also show our community’s commitment to making environmentally responsible choices,” said Melanie Krause, Menasha Utilities General Manager.  “Assisting them with the technical review and grants can allow our non-profit customers move forward with on-site renewable generation.”

 “It’s really great to see how renewable energy projects such as these can contribute to helping manage our precious energy resources. And it’s exciting for Focus On Energy to help a non-profit organization who operates an educational wetland reserve with project funding,” said Keith Harkonen, Energy Advisor, Focus on Energy.

In the first two rounds of funding, Solar for Good has provided grants to 24 nonprofit organizations across Wisconsin, including a food pantry, a shelter for homeless veterans, and several houses of worship. When all the projects are completed, the grants will have supported over $1.6 million in solar investment and 730 kW of new solar electric projects to the state which is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power 146 average WI homes.

How to Apply

Organizations can learn more and apply HERE.  The Solar for Good applications are due on November 13, 2018.  Decisions and funding announcements will be made by Monday, November 26, 2018.

The grant program will fund up to 20% of the cost of a solar array, with a grant cap of $10,000 for solar arrays sized less than 75 kW and a grant cap of $20,000 for arrays 75 kW and above.  In order to be eligible, the organization must be a registered nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin, be in good financial standing, be ready to install solar and agree to participate in educating community members about the benefits of solar energy. If approved for a grant, all fundraising, design and installation for the solar project must be completed within 12 months. 

About RENEW Wisconsin

RENEW Wisconsin leads and accelerates the transformation to Wisconsin’s renewable energy future through advocacy, education, and collaboration. More information on RENEW’s Web site at



Heather Allen

Program Director

RENEW Wisconsin

608-255-4044 ext. 7