RENEW Wisconsin: Five community organizations win grants from City of Madison to install solar arrays

Madison, WI – The City of Madison has awarded grants to five community organizations to install rooftop solar arrays. This year’s recipients of the MadiSUN Backyard Solar grants were announced Thursday, November 11, 2021, by the City of Madison and RENEW Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy organization.

Five grants totaling $50,000 were awarded to nonprofit organizations in the community to facilitate the installation of solar arrays at their facilities. The grant recipients are:

  • Access Community Health Center (healthcare provider)
  • Chapel Valley Church (house of worship) 
  • Madison Circus Space (arts, fitness, and recreational organization)
  • Mt. Zion Baptist Church (place of worship)
  • Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and early childhood and adult education provider) 

The Backyard Solar program incentivizes nonprofit organizations and affordable housing providers to install solar electric systems. Grants cover up to 20% of the cost of a new solar array, helping offset upfront expenses for mission-based organizations installing solar energy.

“The City of Madison is elated to share the news on this year’s Backyard Grant recipients,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “The Backyard Grant program gives nonprofits and affordable housing providers the additional support to make renewable energy a reality.”

The Backyard grant program, now in its third year, will spur over $450,000 in renewable energy investments in Madison. The five solar installations will collectively save the grant recipients nearly $30,000 per year in electricity bills.

“We see using renewable energy, like solar power, as means for our church to move toward our sustainability goal,” stated Birl Lowry, Chair of the Trustee Board at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “As the second oldest predominantly African American church in Madison, Mt. Zion strives to be a leader in the South Madison community. As such, we want to become more environmentally responsible and as energy-efficient as possible.”

Solar energy installations have continued to drive local economic investment and clean energy jobs over the past two years.

“2020 was the best single year for behind-the-meter solar installations in Wisconsin. Thankfully, that seems to be continuing in 2021,” said Sam Dunaiski, Distributed Resources Director for RENEW Wisconsin. “We received more Backyard grant applications for solar installations this year than in all the previous years of the program combined.”

Since 2019, the program has awarded more than $100,000 in grants to nonprofits and affordable housing organizations. Backyard grant recipients will add over 700 kilowatts of renewable electricity to Madison’s electric mix over the next few years. The output from these installations will equal the consumption of approximately 150 Madison-area households.

“These individual solar projects have a big role to play in Wisconsin’s renewable energy transition,” continued Dunaiski. “These smaller installations are part of the all-of-the-above approach we need to decarbonize our electricity sector.”


About RENEW Wisconsin

RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, local hydropower, geothermal energy, energy storage, and electric vehicles—more information on RENEW’s website:

About MadiSUN

MadiSUN facilitates solar power installation for residents, businesses, and nonprofits located within the City of Madison. Promotional videos can be accessed by visiting MadiSUN’s YouTube channel. More can be found at