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New Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging and Training Facility in Wisconsin

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)—a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable living through education and demonstration—has reached its goal of constructing a 19.4 kW solar canopy and advanced training lab. The lab is designed to charge electric vehicles and provide hands-on training at MREA’s headquarters in Custer, Wisconsin. The project was developed to showcase the possibility of powering personal transportation with clean solar energy.

“Nations throughout the world have committed to electrifying their transportation over the next 30 years,” says Nick Hylla, MREA’s executive director. “GM, Daimler, Volvo, Volkswagen and Jaguar have made commitments to fully electrify their vehicle fleets. We see the technology, prices and trends, and believe that we are in the beginning stages of one of the largest infrastructure transitions in U.S. history.”

MREA used the online fundraising tool Indiegogo and their annual Energy Fair to encourage and assemble donations to cover the cost of the solar canopy. Through the generosity of their donors and business sponsors, and via a $10,000 grant received from RENEW, Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program, they have met their fundraising goals.

MREA’s “stretch” goals for the future include a three-year lease on an electric vehicle and 50 percent funding for an outreach coordinator, totaling $30,000. The MREA recognizes the importance of past initiatives, including educational workshops and presentations with leaders in renewable energy that include Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel, and numerous other keynote speakers.

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