Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for approval of a 20-megawatt (MW) solar array to be built in Fitchburg, Wisc. Known as the O’Brien Solar Fields, the project will provide locally generated solar energy to local businesses, municipalities and public institutions under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider (RER).
“This is an exciting project for our participating customers and for MGE. Twenty megawatts of locally generated, cost-effective carbon-free energy on our electric grid will help us achieve our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 and the sustainability goals of these customers,” said MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler.
If approved, O’Brien Solar Fields will be located at the corner of Lacy Road and South Seminole Highway in Fitchburg. EDF Renewables is the developer for the project, which will span approximately 160 acres and consist of about 66,000 solar panels. After construction, MGE will take over the solar fields from EDF and lease the land from the O’Brien family.
The cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $32 million. If approved, this will be the largest solar project in Dane County. Construction is expected to begin this year with the solar array generating electricity in 2021.
Participating customers have entered into RER agreements, subject to regulatory approval, with MGE. RERs enable MGE to partner with a large energy user to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet that customer’s energy needs. RER customers are responsible for costs associated with the renewable generation facility and any distribution costs to deliver energy to the customer. The innovative model grows clean energy in our community.
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MGE is partnering with the following customers on this project:
City of Fitchburg
“I am excited to have this project in Fitchburg. This is a fantastic location for a solar field, and I am excited the City of Fitchburg will be able to join an impressive list of customers using the energy produced by this project,” said Aaron Richardson, Mayor of Fitchburg.
“Being one of the first customers to hop on board with MGE and convert some of our energy to the O’Brien Solar Fields is very exciting. As we continuously look to improve and reduce our carbon footprint, programs like this fully promote our company mission and a cleaner community for us to live in,” said Jim Hart, Placon Engineering Manager.
“Promega is fortunate to be a part of such an advanced initiative for sustainable practices in our community. This array will provide over 8% of our current annual electrical consumption, complementing our current investment in solar photovoltaics on the roofs of five Promega buildings in Madison,” explained Kevin Stefanczyk, Facilities Project Manager, Promega Corporation.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
“By repurposing farmland for the solar array and creating a shared, educational space in our community, we would also be celebrating the connection between sustainability and the Wisconsin Idea,” said Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Willy Street Co-op
“We were thrilled by the opportunity to grow our sustainability efforts by getting even more of our electrical needs through solar power,” said Anya Firszt, Willy Street Co-op General Manager. “Willy Street Co-op has always been invested in our community; this is one way we can help make a cleaner world.”
Wisconsin Department of Administration
“Last year, Governor Evers challenged us to have all electricity consumed within our state be 100% carbon-free by 2050,” explained Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan. “The potential ability to not only receive local renewable energy for some of our state facilities but to also move the needle in mitigating the harm we are seeing from climate change is truly exciting and I am proud that we are able to be part of this proposal.”
MGE generates and distributes electricity to 155,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 163,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties. MGE’s parent company is MGE Energy, Inc. The company’s roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years.
— Solar Builder magazine