‘A glowing example’: DuPage County recognizes Glen Ellyn couple for embrace of solar power

Jeff Jens and Ann Boisclair pose at their home tucked into the woods in Glen Ellyn. They have donated to several solar initiatives.

In some ways, you could call them a power couple.

Ann Boisclair and Jeff Jens have funded solar power projects across the country. Closer to home, the Glen Ellyn couple donated $50,000 toward the installation of a solar array atop the DuPage County administration building in Wheaton.

“Their total contributions have led to a reduction of at least 750 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which could power 96 homes for one year,” County Board Chair Deborah Conroy said.

Boisclair and Jens presented a symbolic check for $50,000 to Conroy and county board member Sheila Rutledge at their meeting March 12. Conroy introduced the pair as “two very generous DuPage County environmentalists who are putting their energy and resources toward preserving and improving the health of our planet.”

The couple helped bring solar power to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. At an unveiling of those solar panels, Rutledge sparked the couple’s interest in supporting solar electricity production on the county government campus.

“It is my hope that every roof here will be covered with solar within the next decade,” said Rutledge, chair of the board’s environmental committee.

A former English major, Jens speaks eloquently on the virtues of going solar. He met Boisclair in the summer driver’s ed program at Glenbard West High School.

“We are people who over the years have grown more and more concerned about global warming and its devastating effects,” Jens said. In 2017, after the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord – the leading international treaty on climate change – the couple decided they “had to do something concrete about the growing crisis,” Jens said.

The couple has since helped nonprofits, churches and government organizations install solar arrays.

“They’re getting more and more efficient and less expensive with each passing year. To top it off, they are incredibly good investments paying for themselves in a relatively short time. This will be nine years,” Jens said of the county’s 164-kilowatt solar panel system.

After that nine-year payback period, the county will be saving more than $16,000 a year on electricity costs from the array, Rutledge said. The system will produce enough electricity to power almost 30 homes annually, the equivalent of reducing emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide by more than 100 metric tons.

“This is truly an impressive accomplishment, one which benefits everyone in DuPage County,” Jens said. “Quite simply for us, this solar array, which will put out huge amounts of clean energy over the years, is a glowing example, pun intended ... of government at its very best.”

· Daily Herald staff writer Jenny Whidden contributed to this report.