University wins approval for a 2.4 MW solar array in Wisconsin


The University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW-Platteville) received state approval to build a 2.4 MW solar array on five acres in the public university’s Memorial Park.

According to UW-Platteville, the project will be the largest solar array owned by a Wisconsin state agency and is scheduled to go online this fall.

UW-Platteville said the array will feed power directly into the university’s main electricity system, which is connected to its 32 campus buildings, rather than send it back to the grid. The project is expected to meet 17% of the university’s energy use and save $217,000 annually. It is also designed to accommodate future battery energy storage.

The university said rooftops and parking-lot awnings were ruled out due to cost, and other ground-mount locations required significant tree removal. Image: UW-Platteville

Plans for the solar project stemmed from a 2018 petition, signed by more than 300 UW-Platteville students, asking the university to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.

The 2.4 MW array is one of several projects the university is advancing in response to the petition. The campus already hosts a wind turbine and a smaller rooftop solar project atop its Engineering Hall.

Chancellor Dennis J. Shields said the university’s sustainability efforts will save taxpayer money and help “pave the way for other state agencies to follow suit.”

UW-Platteville offers a four-year renewable energy degree and recently launched an environmental science and conservation degree. In addition to the energy savings, the solar project is intended to bring hands-on learning opportunities across the university.

Students helped design the initial solar project, formed a plan to graze sheep under the array, and developed a native pollinator seeding plan for the space.

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