EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — An Eau Claire-based company is installing the city’s first-ever “E-Cacia” solar tree Thursday morning in Boyd Park.
“Bryan, thank you very much. Can I order a smaller scale one for my south-facing patio?” said Senator Tammy Baldwin, who spoke at the solar tree installation event.
Brian Graff, who is the co-founder of Solar Forma, says this tree was designed to feel natural in a public place.
“We started the company in 2019 with the idea of trying to figure out how to make solar panels more aesthetic and complementary to human spaces.”
The installation of the solar tree has been ongoing since the previous administration of the City Manager.
“At the time, the city manager, Peters, instructed staff to make Eau Claire the first place where these trees will be put up to be a kind of beacon,” said Dave Solberg, the city engineer. ‘Clear water.
Graff hopes the high-tech tree with its leaves like solar panels will attract people to greener energy.
“At the same time, we can increase the usability of public spaces. By creating an element of interest and meeting people’s functional needs and fostering a sense of community by creating a place to rest, relax and rejuvenate,” Graff said.
Senator Baldwin says the transition to solar power can come with financial benefits.
“Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Wisconsin residents can also claim a federal tax credit that will cover 30% of the cost of installing solar panels and battery storage systems,” said Senator Baldwin. “These investments will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the high energy costs that have impacted so many Wisconsinites and our pocketbooks during these already difficult times.”
And while it’s not quite like reinventing the wheel, but a tree in this case, city officials hope the trees will continue to make for greener pastures.
“50 years ago we were exporting tires all over the world…and now it’s very exciting to look 50 years into the future where we will probably export them all over the world,” Solberg said.
He adds that the installation of a second tree is underway and should be operational by fall 2023.
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