The Deerfield Village Board has put a hold on plans to install solar equipment on the roof of the Deerfield Police Station.
The board voted 4-1 on Aug. 12, with Arnold Evensen dissenting, to not allow the police station solar installation to proceed until a local couple who run the non-profit Couillard Solar Foundation, that is providing and installing the solar equipment, complete landscaping work at another Deerfield site where they previously installed solar panels. Village Board members Don Kositzke abstained in the vote.
Early in 2019, Cal and Laurie Couillard, who separately run the non-profit Couillard Solar Foundation, personally arranged and paid for the installation of a 450 kw solar array on the roof of Deerfield Middle-High School and a 230 kw system at the Village of Deerfield’s wastewater treatment plan on Industrial Park Road.
Village Board members said on Aug. 12 that the area under the solar array at the wastewater treatment plant, that the village expected would be filled by now with stone or some other landscaping element, remains unfinished. Board members said weeds and pooling water have become a problem there.
Deerfield Public Works Director John Doyle told the board that the work at the wastewater treatment plant “has got to be done.”
“It’s embarrassing. It looks terrible,” Doyle said. “(Couillard) told me two months ago he was going to put stone down there; that’s all we’re asking for.”
The Couillards were not at the Aug. 12 meeting.
However, in an email on Aug. 13 they responded that the area under the wastewater treatment plant solar array is “low, soggy terrain, and pooling water was a problem before the solar array was installed.”
Their lease agreement with the village requires them to mow the site, the Couillards went on, “and that is being done,” they wrote. “Cal has spent many of his weekend hours filling in the ruts and mowing the site,” they wrote.
The couple added that they “do not intend to fill in the area with stone.” They said they are working on “another plan to propose to the village as a more feasbile solution to maintain the area.”
They didn’t offer further specifics but hinted that they were considering some sort of natural planting.
“Without vegetation to soak up the water, further flooding of the site could occur,” they wrote.
The Village Board voted on May 13 to tentatively approve the Couillard Solar Foundation’s plan to install solar panels on the roof of the Deerfield Police Station, 7 E. Deerfield St. Board members said on Aug. 12 that the approval included a stipulation that additional review and approval of specific details of the project were required to move forward, and that the Couillards have yet to submit the needed information to proceed.
In response on Aug. 13, the Couillards wrote in an email that the only additional step they were aware of at the police department site is “to provide proof of insurance for the project.”
In an email exchange this spring with Evensen, included in a May 13 Village Board packet, Cal Couillard said the police station solar equipment and installation would be — 100 percent — a gift to the village.
“It will cost the village nothing,” Couillard wrote.
The building at 7 E. Deerfield Street, that long housed Deerfield’s municipal police department, has since 2007 been home to a local law enforcement presence contracted through the Dane County Sheriff’s Office.
Couillard wrote in the May email that he envisions installing two solar arrays on the police station roof, with 10 modules each. “I have not seen the electrical bills from the department but believe that this size of array would go a long way toward meeting their electrical needs,” Couillard wrote.
The police station is just the start of the next push, Couillard said, writing that he envisions the foundation donating solar arrays “quickly” for the Deerfield Fire Station, village garage “and as many village locations as possible.”
The foundation, Couillard wrote, also envisions donating solar equipment for the roof of Liberty Commons, an office and retail center at 10 Liberty St., that he and Laurie Couillard bought from developer Dave Dinkel in December 2018. That would include on the roof of the Deerfield Community Center that has since relocated to Liberty Commons from its longtime space at 3 E. Deerfield St., next door to the police station.
“My goal is to turn 10 Liberty St. into a fossil fuel-free electricity facility,” Couillard wrote to Evenson, potentially also including places to park and charge electric cars.
The Couillards started the non-profit Couillard Solar Foundation in 2017 with a mission “to get as much solar generated power installed in the State of Wisconsin as we possibly can in the next five years.”
Before they sold a long-time business in Edgerton in 2018, the couple gifted a large portion of their corporate shares to the foundation, resulting in a “substantial amount,” being deposited in the foundation at the time of the sale.
Cal Couillard and two business partners also own a for-profit company, Speed Solar. Incorporated in 2017, it has offices in Liberty Commons and purchases solar panels wholesale to distribute to companies that install panels. The company also focuses on new designs and applications for solar panels. Continued from Page