Northern Prairie is a 101-megawatt solar project proposed for development in the Town of Cylon in St. Croix County. As designed, Northern Prairie Solar would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 25,000 homes. If approved, Northern Prairie will begin producing clean power by the end of 2024. For more information, visit the application summary here and RENEW Wisconsin’s testimony here.
Solar projects larger than 100 megawatts must gain approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) before they can proceed to construction. Along the way, there are opportunities for public comment at the township, county, and state levels. Please help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for solar power in general and this project in particular by submitting a comment in support of Northern Prairie Solar. Be sure to specifically reference the project and the benefits that it can bring to Wisconsin. The deadline for submitting comments is January 20, 2023.
[Note: Your comments need not be as lengthy as the sample below, which was drafted to present a variety of supporting perspectives relating to health, environmental sustainability, and rural economic development. We encourage you to articulate the points that matter most to you. But it’s OK to frame your comments at a very high level if that’s what you’re comfortable with.]
I write in support of the Northern Prairie Solar project, presently under review at Docket No. 9815-CE-100. Like other solar projects approved by the PSCW this decade, this project would protect human health and the natural environment while strengthening the state’s economy.
Consistent with Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law, Northern Prairie Solar will provide these benefits by converting a locally available, noncombustible renewable energy resource—sunshine—to electricity, feeding zero-emission energy into existing power lines. As configured, Northern Prairie’s output will displace fossil-fueled generation, which will measurably reduce the volume of airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases discharged from Wisconsin and Minnesota sources.
In-state solar projects can be counted on to energize the local economy through increased revenues to local governments while diversifying our resource mix and bringing Wisconsin a step closer to energy self-sufficiency. The economic benefits come in two forms. Initially, Northern Prairie Solar will create more than 150 jobs in Wisconsin during the project’s construction phase. Second, once placed in service, Northern Prairie will provide rental income to participating landowners and payments in lieu of taxes to local jurisdictions hosting the project. Projects like these can also provide an economic hedge to farmers and rural landowners whose products are subject to commodity market forces and weather conditions beyond their control and can often be unforgiving.
In addition to the health and environmental benefits referenced above, Northern Prairie Solar will also deliver benefits to the land within its footprint. The developer proposes to revegetate the land with a mix of deep-rooted plants under and around the installation. Managing the land in this fashion will improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase biodiversity.
I respectfully encourage the PSCW to find that the construction of the Northern Prairie Solar project is in the public interest and issue a permit enabling the project to proceed with construction.
Thank you for your consideration of my views.