Entire New Berlin subdivision to run on solar energy

Work expected to be done by next spring

The next generation of subdivisions broke ground in our area Tuesday.

Three local companies have joined forces to create a community of homes which will produce their own electricity.

The parcel of land in New Berlin is the Badger State's first Net Zero community, meaning the electric use of every house erected will be offset by solar systems, a pet project of Neumann Companies’ namesake Matt Neumann.

“Solar costs are down 80 percent in the eight years we’ve been in business,” Neumann said “Eighty percent. So, it’s so much more economically viable today than it was years ago. We think this is the way of the future and we think there’s a lot of people out there that are going to say we want to do the right thing environmentally.”

Energy usage from each residence will still be available from the standard grid, but a light-absorbing panel will offset everyone's consumption of electricity. That's where the name NetZero comes from.

“Energy conservation is here and people can take control over their own energy and utility bills through driving down the consumption, through conservation and then augmenting it with a solar system,” said home builder Tim O'Brien.

Meantime, the solar panel provider SunVest, a business that began and is still headquartered in Pewaukee, has expanded into six states to the dismay of its potential clients and competitors alike.

National Sales Director Kirk Kindred gets a chuckle when some people discover where he’s based.

“So many of the solar developers are based on either coast, right, East coast or West coast.  And  we get the question, like what, there’s a solar company based in Wisconsin?  And we’re like, yeah, the sun shines here and we’re a business and we develop projects outside the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

The team expects roads to be paved and land ready for permits in September, construction in fall, and panels generating electricity as early as next spring.

 

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