Madison Gas & Electric and We Energies are partnering to acquire the remaining power that is up for grabs from the Badger Hollow Solar Farm, which will be Wisconsin’s first utility-scale solar farm, MGE announced Thursday.
The two power companies filed a joint application with the Public Service Commission Thursday to own the remaining 150 megawatts of energy at Badger Hollow, which is set to be located in Iowa County about 12 miles west of Dodgeville, according to MGE.
Approved for construction in April, Badger Hollow would be one of the largest solar farms in the country, with a footprint roughly twice the size of the UW Arboretum. Dan Litchfield, the project manager for Badger Hollow, said in May that he expects to break ground on the solar farm this fall.
Some Iowa County residents had sought to halt construction of the solar farm, citing concerns over the environmental impact, its effect on land use, conflicts of interest and lack of a cost-benefit analysis. The PSC denied the group’s request to reconsider its approval of the farm in May.
The 150 megawatts that MGE and We Energies have applied for is enough energy to power around 49,500 households for one year, MGE spokesman Steve Schultz said. Under the partnership, MGE would own 50 megawatts, and We Energies would own 100 megawatts.
In May, MGE was approved to own 50 megawatts of Badger Hollow’s energy. If MGE’s most recent application is approved, it would own a total of 100 megawatts of the 300-megawatt farm.
The solar energy produced at Badger Hollow will provide electricity for homes and businesses in the area, Schultz said.
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“(MGE) customers will have access to this locally generated solar power just as they would from any other power on the electric grid,” Schultz said. “It will flow out of Badger Hollow and onto the electric grid.”
Over time, solar power will lower the cost of electricity for consumers, said Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO of WEC Energy Group, the parent corporation of We Energies.
“This is another significant step in our transition to a clean energy future,” Fletcher said in a statement.
The other 100 megawatts of the farm will be owned by the gas and electric utility Wisconsin Public Service, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group. The Chicago-based company Invenergy, North America’s largest privately held renewable energy company, is developing the project.
Jeff Keebler, MGE’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement that this additional access to solar energy will help MGE reach its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.
“This is yet another step in our active transition toward greater use of cleaner energy sources to serve our community.”
If MGE and We Energies’ application is approved, this phase of Badger Hollow will start generating electricity in 2021.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Dodgeville.]