Schools Hook Up To The Sun

Local businessman and students join in project to hook up solar power system.


LANCASTER, Wis. — Lancaster’s high/middle school complex is going solar thanks to a team of Lancaster High School students and a rural Platteville businessman who specializes in renewable energy systems.

What is it? A 2.7 kilowatt photovoltaic (solar electric) system consisting of 12 mono crystalline solar panels, 12 Enphase Energy inverters and an Ironridge racking system. The entire system, including the wiring, was manufactured in the United States.

Why was it done? Timmerman’s Talents donated it to the Lancaster School District to help the school and provide a learning project for the students at no cost to the district.

“As a state, we import almost $1.1 billion worth of coal per year, so for every system I install whether it be one panel, 12 panels or 100 panels, we import less coal and keep that money here in our local communities,” said Todd Timmerman, owner of Timmerman’s Talents. “This to me is job creation because we keep money here versus sending it out to Wyoming to import coal.”

How was it done? The system was installed with the aid of students from Dennis Schmidt’s technological, occupational and preparational program. The high school’s power, energy and transportation class will monitor the system.

What is the result? The system will produce 300 kilowatt hours of electricity per month (about half of what the average home uses) and has a life expectancy of 50 to 100 years.

“It means that we will reduce our coal usage by 300 pounds per month for the life of the system,” Timmerman said.

Background: Planning began in December and after the approval process was completed, construction began in the second week of September and was completed several weeks ago. Located on the school complex’s unshaded south-facing slope on East Elm Street, the solar array featured student involvement that included the mounting and framing apparatuses.

“It’s really important to get the word out about solar energy because we don’t have a lot in our area,” said Brian Tucker, a senior, who thanked Timmerman for donating the materials. “It was a great hands-on learning experience that otherwise we might not have had the opportunity to take on this task.”

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