JEFFERSON — Dairyland Power Cooperative has announced it will be purchasing electricity from a new Wisconsin-based solar energy facility being developed by Ranger Power in the towns of Jefferson and Oakland.
The partnership involves a 149-megawatt solar power facility called Badger State Solar, being located in Jefferson County. Ranger Power is planning to develop, own and operate the project, selling all the electricity generated through a long-term power purchase agreement with Dairyland Power Cooperative.
“The project will produce enough electricity to provide the equivalent annual needs of about 20,000 homes,” Dairyland President and CEO Barbara Nick said. “If all approvals are granted from local and state permitting processes, construction would begin in 2020 and operation would commence in 2022.”
Headquartered in La Crosse, Dairyland Power Cooperative provides wholesale electricity to 24 member-distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities in four states.
“Today’s announcement shows that solar power has become a cost-effective resource for Wisconsin’s major power providers such as Dairyland Power,” RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner said. “By committing to this solar project which will be built right here in Wisconsin, Dairyland will meet its goals of safe, reliable, affordable and an increasingly sustainable and diversified energy supply. We congratulate Dairyland Power Cooperative and Ranger Power on this historic announcement.”
By RENEW Wisconsin’s count, the state had about 103 megawatts of solar at the end of 2018, with Dairyland Power Cooperative responsible for about 20 megawatts, already placing it as the leader in the state for the amount of solar installed to-date.
“This project, along with a number of additional major solar projects, will dramatically increase the amount of solar energy produced in Wisconsin in the next five years,” Dairyland said.
The planned solar photovoltaic facility to produce the power is proposed for the land of participating private landowners in the towns of Jefferson and Oakland. Pollinator habitat also is planned for the site.
“Dairyland is excited to collaborate with Ranger Power on this sustainable solar energy facility,” Nick said. “Resource diversification is foundational to Dairyland’s commitment to a sustainable, future-facing power supply. We look forward to Badger State Solar’s benefit to our cooperative membership, local communities and the environment.”
Badger State’s solar panels will be between 12 and 15 feet high with significant open space between the panels. The Badger State site is located close to existing electrical infrastructure, which minimizes the project’s footprint and avoids the need for long transmission lines.
In addition to the renewable energy it produces, the Badger State Solar project is expected to bring significant economic impacts to the area. Ranger Power President Paul Harris estimates that the facility will require hundreds of construction jobs during its creation and 3.5 job full-time positions once it is operational.
Harris added that Badger State is designed to be light on the land. The equipment will be removed and the land will be restored to be suitable for agricultural use when the project reaches the end of its useful life, which is assumed to be in 30 to 35 years.
“We are pleased to partner with Dairyland, a recognized leader in solar generation and renewable energy, to provide clean, cost-effective power to its cooperative members,” Harris, said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Jefferson County community throughout the project development and approval process.”
He said that compared to the average air emissions associated with electric generation in Wisconsin, the clean energy from this state-of-the-art facility will have the equivalent effect of taking 39,000 cars off the road. In addition, the project is expected to bring more than $500,000 per year in new tax revenues to Jefferson County and the towns of Jefferson and Oakland.
Badger State Solar will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at the Jefferson Area Business Center, 222 S. Wisconsin Drive in Jefferson. Attendees will be able to learn about the project and ask questions.
Those unable to attend may call (888) 898-8878 or email info-wisconsin!rangerpower.com for more information or to schedule a time to meet at the office, which also is located at the Jefferson Area Business Center. Office hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays. The project website is at www.badgerstatesolar.com.
Another solar farm is also being proposed for the Concord and Ixonia areas near Watertown that might tie in with the Concord Generating Station of WE Energies.