New Projects, Renewables, Solar

Madison Gas & Electric, We Energies acquiring 150 MW of in-state solar

Two Wisconsin utilities are teaming up to acquire 150 MW of solar power in their state.

Madison Gas & Electric and We Energies announced the new partnership to acquire the remaining 150 MW of the planned Badger Hollow Solar Farm in Iowa County in southwestern Wisconsin. Invenergy is the developer for the total 300-MW project.

Under the deal, We Energies will own 100 MW of the solar output at Badger Hollow, while MGE will possess 50 MW of the capacity.

“This is another significant step in our transition to a clean energy future,” said Kevin Fletcher, CEO of  WEC Energy Group, the parent corporation of We Energies. “Along with the environmental benefits of solar energy, this purchase will lower costs to customers over the life of the project.”

MGE has a goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050, its CEO Jeff Keebler pointed out.

 “This is yet another step in our active transition toward greater use of cleaner energy sources to serve our community,” he said in a statement.

The agreement still needs regulator approval. If and when approved, this phase of the Badger Hollow solar project would begin generating in 2021.The initial phase of the project should begin operation next year.

Madison Gas & Electric has already finalized a similar agreement with Wisconsin Public Service, another subsidiary of WEC, on splitting ownership of the first 150-MW bloc at Badger Hollow. MGE will own 50 MW and WPS 100 MW under that deal, as well.

An earlier report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that Wisconsin had the potential for 16.3 GW of rooftop solar potential on small buildings alone. Another 7 GW potential capacity might be available via larger buildings, according to the NREL.

Wisconsin currently ranks in the bottom 10 of states with installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. We Energies, however, has had a rooftop solar inclusion program for some time, and the utility is reported to be investing at least $130 million in the Badger Hollow project.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International, happening Nov. 19-21 in New Orleans. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).

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Solar energy will be front and center in the Wind and Solar Knowledge Hub on the POWERGEN exhibition floor this summer. The event also includes numerous sessions on conventional power, and We Energies-Wisconsin Public Service is one of the utilities sending experts to speak at the event in New Orleans. Registration is now open at power-gen.com.