4017 County Road JJ, Black Earth, WI 53515


There are significant resources and incentives available today for installing solar energy, energy efficient appliances, electric car charges and more at your home or business. Visit the links listed here to get started. And review the experiences shared by Vermont residents who have installed solar, helping reduce their financial and environmental costs.  If you would like your solar story included, email Warren Gaskill @ [email protected]

Additional Resources…

Ground Mount Solar PV

Trisha McConnell and Jim Billings/County F

System: 11.1 kW solar PV, 30 panels, ground mounted; Philadelphia Solar PS-M72, Fronius Primo 12.5-1 Inverter. No battery storage.

Installed by: All Sky Solar, Baraboo, Oct. 2020.

Utility provider: Black Earth Utility/Vanguard.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected]

Michael McDermott and Charlene Taymor/Blue Mounds Trail

System: 13.2 kW solar PV, 36 panels, ground mounted; Philadelphia Solar PS-M72, Fronius Primo 12.5-1 Inverter. No battery storage.

Installed by: All Sky Solar, Baraboo, Dec. 2020.

Utility provider: Black Earth Utility/Vanguard.

What would you have done differently: Installed 1 or 2 years earlier.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected] 


Fred Townsend and Barbara Borns/Union Valley Road

System: 6.8 kW solar PV, 16 panels, ground mounted; SolarEdge/5000A panels and inverter. No battery storage.

Installed by: Drews Solar, Madison, May 2017.

Utility provider: Black Earth Utility/Vanguard.

Lessons learned: If you have the space, a ground mount system allows for easier access to remove snow in winter.

Key positives:Ease of the process.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected] 

Warren and Sharon Gaskill/Bell Road

System: 5.5 kW Solar PV, 16 panels, ground mounted; SolarWorld 345W XL panels; SolarEdge SE-5000 inverter.

Installed by: Safer Better World Solar, Waunakee, July 2017

Connected to a battery? We had our electric panel rewired as a part of the installation, and have space and a sub panel for a battery, but have not installed yet. Price of battery storage still keeps dropping while quality improving!

Utility provider: Alliant, which nets the production and cost monthly and only pays a wholesale rate for any excess production to the grid.

Key positives: The $2000 Focus on Energy Rebate and the 30% federal tax credit helped a lot in our financing. Given existing electric rates, the breakeven point was forecast for 13 years from install. In the first two years, production has slightly exceeding what was forecast.

Anything different: When we were digging the trench between the solar installation and the electric panel and utility meter at our house, we should have also run a 220-volt line into our garage for a future car changing outlet.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected]

Brian Evans and Agnes Kanikula/County JJ

System: 5.7 kW solar PV, ground mounted/tracking. 18 Sunpower 320 W panels, Fronius IG Inverter, no battery storage.

Installed by: Full Spectrum Solar, October, 2011.

Utility provider: Alliant.

Lessons learned: Tracking collectors provide more electricity for the same number of panels, but they do require additional maintenance. They are great if you like messing about with mechanical things, not so great if you don’t.

Key positives: We have a eGauge monitoring systemwhich is very useful for tracking energy use, power production, etc.

Anything different: Set up for battery backup. It wasn’t practical at the time we installed our system.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected]  

Andy and Karen Grimmer/Kelliher Road

System: 17.28 kW Solar PV, 48 panels ground mounted with annual production estimated at 23,251 kWh. PV Panels: 48 x Heliene, Model: 72M360; Inverters: 2 x SolarEdge Technologies, Model: SE7600H-US (240); no storage at this time.

Installed by: October 2019 by Full Spectrum Solar, Madison.

Utility provider: Mount Horeb.

Key positives: 1) Full Spectrum provided detailed site evaluation and payback study at no cost (provided as selling services).  2) Some tax incentive end or roll back at the end of this year.  3) Even with at 17 kW system, getting to breakeven on usage vs. generation with take lots of additional conservation measures by us.  4) Having the installation planned has motivated me to find and buy the right plug in hybrid or EV. 

Anything different: Make this project a priority over some other projects we have going on at our house.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected]or 416-9042.

Roof Mount Solar PV


Mark Pocan and Phil Frank / Bakken-Stenli Road

System: 8.55 kW solar PV, 30 panels, roof mounted; Solar Edge inverter. Have option for onsite battery. (Still very expensive, but having a system that would let you use one in the future is a good idea.)

Installed by: Safer Better World, Waunakee, Oct. 2016.

Utility provider: Alliant.

Lessons learned: Unfortunately, state law disincentives overproduction by paying you the WHOLESALE rate (about 1/4 the rate they charge) for unused energy. That makes a disincentive to produce more than a solar company recommends. We were VERY happy with the company we used, Safer Better World. 

Key positives: The Federal Tax Credit is going away soon, but that was very helpful.  It is at 30% in 2019, but starts to go down in the next few years. Also, Focus on Energy has a credit to help any purchase.

Anything different: Might have considered stand-alone solar rather than rooftop due to snow. Lose a few days here and there in Winter due to snow coverage.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected] 


David and Sandie Stanfield / Stanfield Road

System: 9.6 kW Solar PV, 32 panels, roof mounted; Solar World panels and Solar Edge inverter.

Installed by: Midwest Solar Power, Madison, June 2016.

Utility provider: Black Earth Electric, a municipal utility owned by the Village of Black Earth which buys electricity wholesale from Alliant.  Black Earth Electric and Mazomanie Electric together contract with Vanguard Electric for maintenance of the utilities’ substations and distribution grid to its customers.

For solar customers, Black Earth Electric installs a meter at our home to measure our solar production and what grid electricity we buy from them.  The difference between the two meter readings on a monthly basis results in either a credit or a debit. If we consume more than we produce in any month, we pay that amount; if we produce more than we consume (+ the monthly fixed charges), we pay nothing to Black Earth Electric for that month.

Key positives: In a little more than three years, our solar system produced 33,650 kWh of electricity.  For most of those three years, the cost of electricity charged by Black Earth Utility has been $0.111 per kWh, including taxes, but excluding the fixed monthly charges.   The cost has increased since July to $0.12 per kWh, and the monthly fixed charges have also increased.

Solar Edge in its estimate of “lifetime revenue” uses the $0.12 per kWh to produce its estimate of the total value of the electricity produced by our system to be $4,038 as of August 12, 2019 (a little more than 3 years). Using that figure, our system should produce approximately what it cost us to install it (net the federal income tax credit and payment from Focus on Energy) in about 12 years.

Anything different: We should have taken the energy efficiency measures before sizing out solar system.To decide to install 32 panels in 2016, we added up our monthly kWh consumption for the year 2015, and multiplied by 80% since we did not want to produce more electricity than we consume.   However, this past year — after replacing some inefficient appliances and after turning off cattle and chicken heaters when temperatures were above 30 degrees F, and unplugging our roof edge heaters when the roof was clear of snow — we started to produce more electricity than we consumed.

Willing to be contacted to share experience? Yes, at [email protected]

Dave and Barb Perkins / County FF at F

System: 23.4 kW solar PV, roof mounted. 72 Solar World panels, Fronius Primo inverters. No battery storage.

Installed by: H&H Solar, Madison, April 2016.

Utility provider: Black Earth Electric.

Lessons learned:  The installation will pay for itself and much more.  In the hills of Vermont township, think about location for maximum sun exposure.  You want to setup a system that produces slightly less energy than than your anticipated usage.

Key positives: Good investment. It just works; no moving parts.

Anything different: We did the installation for the farm business, so did not hook up to the house.  We should have connected it all.  We cannot remove the snow; would consider a placement that would facilitate that.  Lost one month to snow last winter.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, [email protected].

Willi Lehner and Quitas McKnight /County Road F

System: 15 kW solar array, ground mounted; 5 kW wind, 120-fott guyed tower; solar hot water, mounted; Fronius and Sunny Boy inverters; battery connected.

Installed by: Northwind Solar, Stevens Point, 2012.

Utility provider: Mt. Horeb Utility.

Lessons learned: Have an energy audit of your home done first before adding any renewables. Energy efficiency improvements are cheapest form of energy savings. Can then properly size renewable energy system to meet needs.

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected]or call 767-2875


John and Chris Coffin /North Road

System: 2.3 kW, 16 Kyroca panels, mounted on two axis trackers; 48-volt battery bank, 600 amp hours; Outback inverters; propane generator that helps heat the house. Installed 2003.

Utility provider: Off grid for 14 years; connected to Alliant in 2017. 

Lessons Learned: Cost of panels has come down since 2003, so trackers are no longer useful. We use large, 2400 lbs total, lead acid batteries for storage. They still work fine, but need maintenance (check water levels) four time a year.  Newer batteries are better (think Tesla power wall).  There are still cost issues maintenance issues with any battery.

 Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at 770-6559.

Jon Norris /Thumper Road

System: 16.7 kW Solar PV, 40 305-watt Mission panels, ground mounted with adjustability. Fronius inverter. Option for storage.

Installed: July 2019 by Timmermans Talents, Platteville.   

Utility provider: Mount Horeb.

Key positives: We have a Wi-Fi connection that enables us to watch production, and the meter also provides feedback

 Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at [email protected] 



Myles O’Kelly and Terri Niemczyk / Bakken-Stenli Road

System: 5.7 kW solar PV, 20 panels, roof mounted; Solar World panels, SolarEdge inverter and DC optimizers.  No battery storage.

Installed by: H&H Solar, Madison, July 2015.

Utility provider: Alliant.

Lessons learned: Snow sticks and roof treacherous, so consider ground mount to remove snow easily, avoid future re-roofing removal, reduce chance of squirrels camping under panels and chewing power cables. 

Key positives: Process was positively simple. It’s always comforting to look up during daylight and know I’m providing myself with energy.  

Anything different: Identify ground mount location. Choose different contractor, probably Tim Dyer at Safer Better World in Waunakee. 

Willing to be contacted to learn more? Yes, at 767-2330.