Wisconsin Regulators signed off Thursday on plans for the Paris Solar Energy Center in Kenosha County, a 200-megawatt array that will be the second largest in Wisconsin once built.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission unanimously approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity giving the developer of the solar farm authority to move ahead with the project. Once complete, the solar array will produce enough energy to power 55,000 homes. The plans also make provisions for a 50-megawatt storage battery, a technology that has not been previously used in Wisconsin.
“Overall, it’s a good project that complies with our statutes,” said PSC commissioner Tyler Huebner.
Invenergy, of Chicago, first sought PSC approval for the project in February, reaching a deal with the town of Paris earlier this fall. Separately, Invenergy is also working on largest solar array planned for Wisconsin, the 300-megawatt Badger Hollow solar farm in Iowa County.
The Paris Solar Energy Center will entail an investment of more than $220 million, according to an economic analysis of the project. The solar farm could create about 550 construction jobs, including 390 in Kenosha County. Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.
Invenergy has yet to announce a buyer of power from the plant. With its 330-megawatt Badger Hollow solar farm, Invenergy is selling power to both Madison Gas and Electric and We Energies.
The Paris Solar Energy Center will sit on 1,400 acres about 1.5 miles west of Interstate 94, although Invenergy has reached agreements with landowners to use more than 2,500 acres. The developer, however, must preserve a 50-acre site that archaeologists believe was once used by native hunters.
The commission also gave conditional approval to Invenergy’s plans to place a 50-megawatt battery system on the property. The PSC has signaled its support for the system but is still requiring the developer to submit an engineering report for review before starting construction.
The PSC’s approval comes after officials in the Town of Paris unanimously approved a deal with the developer this fall detailing what the project will mean for taxes, roads and other considerations. The developer, according to the deal, plans to hold a preconstruction meeting with village and PSC officials and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Paris Solar farm follows a string of large-scale solar projects the PSC has signed off on in recent years. The first project of its kind to earn commission approval — Manitowoc County’s Two Creeks Solar farm — began operating last month.Follow @natebeck9