MILWAUKEE - Johnson Controls, in collaboration with the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), will turn an underutilized parcel of urban land into Wisconsin’s largest solar farm. The farm will serve as a training center for technicians, designers, site assessors, electricians, sales personnel, and other professionals in the field of renewable energy.

“Trained solar technicians and engineers are vital to our energy future,” said Don Albinger, vice president of Renewable Energy Solutions at Johnson Controls. “We are excited to collaborate with forward thinking institutions of higher education like MATC in the training of tomorrow’s energy leaders.”

The organizations said the photovoltaic (PV) farm will be unique in a number of ways:

• The project will feature eight different configurations of nearly 2,500 photovoltaic panels. The variety of configurations will increase student learning opportunities.

• Along with training students from MATC, opportunities for education will be extended to other institutions.

• Energy produced by the solar education farm will be used to operate the Milwaukee Public Television transmitter that is located at the site. This will be the first public television transmitter in the country that will be taken off the traditional energy grid, saving an estimated $70,000 in annual energy costs used to power the transmitter.

• Built on nearly 32 acres in the city of Milwaukee, the farm provides the opportunity to demonstrate an effective use of underutilized urban land. The site includes a remediated land fill, a capped urban waste site, roads, parking lots, radio and television tower guy wires, rolling terrain and odd shaped parcels.

• The farm will be portable. Panels, fence posts, and solar trackers will be mounted to concrete ballasts, rather than attached to the ground, which is typical in a traditionally-constructed PV facility. In another first for the project, it is believed this is the first entirely portable PV facility in the United States.

The $6.9 million project will be located at 810 E. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee.

Publication date:12/28/2009