APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Solar panels can be a cost-effective way to reduce your electricity bill, all while reducing your carbon footprint, and the City of Appleton is getting in on the savings.

“Municipalities are looking for ways to both save money and be tight and strict with their budgets and Appleton and Menasha frankly are both making sure their investments are greens as well,” said Rep. Lee Snodgrass.

The city installed these panels on their municipal services building and they have a 30-year life span. Experts say it will only take 12 years to see the cost savings.

Dean Gazza, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management for the City of Appleton, said, “631 panels – so about 300 kilowatts of output power that we won’t have to buy from the utility. That will save us 30,000 a year so it gives us a nice payback of just under 12 years. So what it means is we’re reducing our carbon footprint.”

Lt Gov. Barnes says he believes Wisconsin could be a manufacturing hub for green energy to help the economy across the entire state.

“There’s no reason why Wisconsin can’t return to its manufacturing prowess with the opportunities that exist with solar and wind as only two examples,” said Barnes. “And unfortunately a lot of solar panels aren’t being made in America and these were made in California, now it’s time to bring it even close and make them here in our own back yard.”

Officials with the City of Appleton say this year they met their goal of reducing emissions by 25%, four years earlier than their original prediction, so now they are looking for other ways to make the city greener.

“We were one of the first municipalities, one of five, that joined green tier legacy communities and that was a commitment to say we’re going to be sustainable, we’re going to be a leader in this area,” said Gazza.

City officials say the next step might be harnessing geothermal energy.

You can view the full sustainability master plan below.