NextEra to build Wisconsin’s largest solar project

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In 2015, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicted Wisconsin would add 141 MW of solar energy by 2020. Yesterday, a project that was announced  would complete 71% of that capacity by itself.

NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, has committed to build a 100-MW solar project named Point Beach Solar Energy Center. The project will sit on land adjacent to the Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, Wis. NextEra, which will build and operate the system,. says the project will be online by 2021.

Prior to yesterday’s announcement, the state’s largest solar project was the 2.3 MW Rock River plant in Beloit.

At 100 MW, the project could power 23,000 homes with solar power through regional utility WPPI Energy, which has entered into a 20-year power-purchase agreement with NextEra on the project. WPPI, which is made up of 51 member utilities in several states, says it will use the energy to serve customers across Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

“This solar energy center adds diversity to WPPI Energy’s power supply portfolio in a way that’s more cost-effective than other opportunities currently available to us,” said Mike Peters, president and CEO of WPPI Energy. “In addition, WPPI Energy has achieved significant emissions reductions over the past 10 years, and the clean, renewable energy generated by this project will help us continue that effort.”

SEIA reports that in 2015 – the last year for which full year  statistics are available – Wisconsin installed 5 MW of solar electric capacity, ranking it 34th nationally. Installed solar capacity in Wisconsin had grown by 94% over 2014. Those 5 MW resulted in an investment of $12 million in the state, which represented a 71% increase over 2014.