Yesterday, Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin Power & Light utility company announced plans to add 1,000 megawatts of solar power by 2023 to provide more clean, renewable energy to their Wisconsin customers.
By our analysis, this commitment to solar power would equate to:
- About 2.7% of Wisconsin’s entire electricity consumption
- Enough electricity to provide the annual needs of about 250,000 Wisconsin residential electric customers
- An estimated $5,000,000 annually in land leases paid to landowners who would lease their land to the solar projects
- $4,000,000 annually provided across the local townships and county governments where the projects are located (if in Wisconsin), allocated through the state’s utility shared revenue formula
- Create about 1,600 jobs during construction
- Currently Wisconsin uses about 9,200,000 acres as farmland and has 34,700,000 total acres of land. The approximately 7,000 acres of solar would sit on just 0.076% of Wisconsin’s farmland and 0.020% of Wisconsin’s total land.
- With appropriate grassland and pollinator-friendly practices, the land under these solar arrays can provide numerous benefits by regenerating soil, supporting pollinators like bees and butterflies, and removing carbon from the air and burying it in the soil.
Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director, issued the following statement: “This is another important announcement signifying solar power’s time has come in Wisconsin. The costs for solar power have declined about 80% in the past decade, making solar a cost-effective source of electricity for Wisconsin customers.”
Huebner continued: “In addition to utility-scale solar development, RENEW Wisconsin and our members know that solar on homes, buildings, and in our communities also provide tremendous benefits and we look forward to working with Alliant and other utilities to ensure distributed generation and other renewable resources have a fair and equal shot, and receive fair and equal treatment, at providing their benefits as the state continues to shift towards more homegrown, healthy, and smart renewable energy.”
Alliant also announced they will build the first of their “community solar” projects, a program previously approved by the Public Service Commission, in Fond du Lac.
For context, Wisconsin currently has approximately 130 megawatts of solar. In April 2019, approximately 500 megawatts of solar in Wisconsin were approved (450 megawatts were approved by the Public Service Commission and nearly 50 megawatts were approved by the Richland County Board).