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Regulators approve 325MW Darien solar farm in southern Wisconsin

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//July 15, 2021//

Regulators approve 325MW Darien solar farm in southern Wisconsin

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//July 15, 2021//

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Wisconsin regulators on Thursday signed off on the nearly $450 million Darien Solar Energy Center, a major solar farm and battery storage project slated for Rock and Walworth counties.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission unanimously authorized construction of the project during a meeting Thursday. The solar farm includes 250 megawatts of solar power generation and would also incorporate a 75-megawatt battery storage facility.

Developer Invenergy, of Chicago, first sought approval to construct the solar farm last summer. We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Madison Gas and Electric are separately asking the PSC for permission to purchase the project.

The Darien Solar Energy Center is the latest in a string of utility-scale solar arrays to earn approval from state regulators in recent years. The solar farm is the ninth such project to earn PSC support.

With the PSC’s approval, construction is expected to get underway late this year and wrap up in 2023. The Darien Solar Farm would sit on about 2,000 acres of land between the town of Bradford in Rock County and the town of Darien in Walworth County. Invenergy said the project would produce about $1 million in shared revenue payments for the towns each year.

WEC Energy Group, the parent company of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, would own 90% of the Darien Solar project, while Madison Gas and Electric would own 10%. The solar farm is part of the $2 billion that the utility plans to spend on renewable energy through 2025.

The utility earlier this year also announced plans to purchase the $426 million Paris Solar Farm, in Kenosha County, and has proposed building the $650 million Koshkonong Solar Farm in Dane County with 300 megawatts of solar and 165 megawatts of battery storage, making it the state’s largest solar array.

Meanwhile, the firm announced last fall that it plans to eliminate 1,800 megawatts of fossil fuel generation in the next five years by closing part of its coal-fired plant in Oak Creek. Those plans are part of the utility’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2025 and 70% by 2030.


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