With the flip of a switch, Fall Creek-based Eau Claire Energy Cooperative (ECEC) now owns and operates Wisconsin’s newest and largest Community Solar project. Consisting of 2,816 panels with a rated capacity of 872 kilowatts (DC), the array will produce approximately 900,000 kilowatt-hours a year, roughly the equivalent of what 90 households would consume in a year.
For the moment at least, it is the third largest solar array in Wisconsin (see table below).
River Falls-based Able Energy Company constructed ECEC’s system. Later this year, Able will commence construction on a 250 kW solar array in Minnesota for People’s Energy Cooperative.
“Eau Claire Energy’s project makes a statement on solar energy that couldn’t be clearer,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy organization headquartered in Madison. “If you’re searching for a utility project that delivers clean energy and long-term savings to its subscribers while creating good-paying jobs with in-state businesses, you’ll find an excellent example in Fall Creek.”
“Solar energy is here to stay and we encourage other electric providers to embrace that reality,” Huebner said.
Under a typical community solar project, electricity customers help finance the building of a large project through an up-front subscription fee that is paid back in full (with a modest return) through monthly on-bill credits. A centralized solar array enables all utility customers, including those who rent or are lacking sufficient solar exposure, to support the expansion of solar generation in their community.
Since early 2014, six Wisconsin electric cooperatives have built and energized solar gardens totaling more than 1.5 MW (see table below). For information on community solar activity in Wisconsin, visit RENEW’s web page at http://renewwisconsin.org/action/CommunitySolar.htm.