Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined Alliant Energy and SunVest Solar executives on Tuesday to celebrate the installation of the first solar panels at the 90-acre solar farm site on county-owned land in the town of Cottage Grove.
Construction of the Yahara Solar Project is projected to be complete later this year, resulting in Dane County reaching its goal of using 100% renewable electricity at all county facilities.
The solar project is creating about 70 construction jobs during peak construction this fall.
The 17-megawatt solar project will produce more than 36 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity per year — enough to power more than 3,000 Dane County homes. The 33,000 solar panel array utilizes the latest bifacial panel technology that produces energy from both sides of the panel, which increases energy production as sunlight reflects off the ground, especially when snow-covered, and as they track the sun throughout the day.
Alliant Energy selected SunVest Solar, headquartered in Pewaukee, to build, operate and initially own the project. Construction of the Yahara Solar Project began in June. Pieper Electric, with headquarters in New Berlin, is the installation contractor working with multiple local unions.
On Oct. 3, Parisi announced his 2023 proposed budget that funds the climate goal of having all Dane County facilities and fleet be carbon neutral by 2030. Achieving the initial 100% renewable electricity goal will reduce the county’s emissions by 63% or 24,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually compared to 2020.
Land conservation efforts and the natural carbon sequestration that results from that work will help achieve the net-zero goal. To further increase the energy efficiency of county buildings, $900,000 is proposed to start work on campus-wide geothermal systems for the East District Campus (Medical Examiner and Highway Garage) along with the Badger Prairie campus in Verona.
Additionally, Parisi’s 2023 budget aims to expand the county’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions at the landfill’s renewable natural gas facility, where $4.5 million is budgeted for the development and installation of innovative carbon capture technology.