The completed project makes the Dane County the fourth county in the U.S. to use renewable energy to power all of its county facilities. The 17-megawatt solar farm will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to those produced by more than 5,000 cars, county officials said.
“Achieving our goal of powering our buildings with 100% renewable electricity is a landmark achievement in our fight against climate change. Dane County is not only the first county government in the state to achieve 100% renewable electricity status, but just the 4th county in the nation to reach the 100% goal.” Dane County is a member of U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership program that tracks the renewable energy progress of hundreds of municipalities across the county,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement.
The project includes 33,000 solar panels and took six months to build. The solar farm provides enough electricity to power more than 3,000 Dane County homes, officials said. The panels can catch sunlight from both sides, especially when it bounces off the snow-covered ground in the winter.
“The Yahara Solar Project, and all of our renewable energy projects across our footprint, diversify energy generation on the grid so it more reliably delivers energy when our customers need it most,” Alliant VP of Customer and Community Engagement JP Brummond said in a statement.
Pewaukee-based SunVest Solar was selected to build, operate and initially own the project, and New Berlin-based Pieper Electric served as the installation contractor in conjunction with multiple local unions, county officials said.
Dane County will receive renewable energy credits (RECs) for leasing the land to the solar project and Alliant will deliver the power generated to its customers, officials noted. The county owns the property, and the company leases the land, with payment made in RECs. That was the county reaches its renewable energy goals without an increase to energy costs, officials added.
The project created around 70 jobs during peak construction in the fall and recruited local union operating engineers, carpenters, laborers and electricians, officials said.
Before the project, the 90-acre field was used to grow corn and soybeans and now the site has been converted to solar energy production and prairie grass plantings will reduce water runoff, county officials noted. There will be 325,000 cubic feet less of water runoff volume and phosphorus runoff will be reduced by 370 pounds each year.
Dane County’s 2023 budget climate goal aims to have all County facilities and fleet vehicles carbon neutral by 2030, county officials said. With 100% of the electricity in facilities coming from renewable sources, the county’s emissions will be reduced by 63% or 24,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually compared to 2020, officials noted.