As of this April, North Wind Renewable Energy has made the transition to a 100 percent employee owned cooperative.
This Stevens Point based company specializes in the installation and design of solar electric systems. North Wind’s clients include businesses, farms and homes across the state.
Doug Stingle, a consultant for North Wind, said that becoming an employee owned cooperative is a goal which the company has been aiming for since its inception in 2007. He said that being a cooperative allows all employees to work together, giving them each an equal say in the company’s decision making.
Stingle said the company has strengthened their focus on solar electric system installations, a market which he feels is growing in Wisconsin. He said that last year in 2016 was the best year for solar installation for North Wind as well as the entire state.
Stingle said, “there’s lot of high hopes for 2017 being as good if not better of a year for installing solar. The costs have come down remarkably on the equipment while utility rates continue to rise making the investment in a solar array more attractive pretty much every day.”
On a national level, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that between 2016 and 2018 the solar sector will grow the fastest in comparison to other renewable energy sources. Despite this growth, the administration predicts solar will make up 1.4 percent of all utility-scale electricity in the United States in 2018.
A 2016 analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that coal fuels over half of Wisconsin’s electrical generation.
Since Wisconsin has no coal mines, all coal fuel must be sourced from outside, primarily from Wyoming. Natural gas accounts for most of the remainder of electricity generation, with renewable sources making up less than 10 percent of electricity generation statewide.
As the cost of renewable energy like solar decreases, and demand for more sustainable options continues, it is likely that renewable energy sources will continue to become increasingly important in Wisconsin.