Wisconsin utilities propose another big solar+storage project


We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), units of WEC Energy Group, are again teaming up with Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to propose a second solar and battery energy storage project.

The utilities filed plans with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for the Darien Solar Energy Center, a 325 MW solar+storage project to be built in Rock and Walworth counties in the southeast part of the state.

If approved by state regulators, the $446 million project would include 250 MW of solar generation and 75 MW of battery storage. It would be built on 2,000 acres and include up to 850,000 solar panels.

Chicago-based Invenergy would develop and build the Darien Solar Energy Center. Construction would start in late 2021, with the project slated to go online by the end of 2023.

Under the partnership, We Energies and WPS would own 90% of the project, or 225 MW of its solar output and 67.5 MW of the storage. MGE would own the remaining 10%, or 25 MW of solar and 7.5 MW of storage.

In February, the companies announced plans for a $426 million, 310 MW facility, the Paris Solar-Battery Park. If approved by regulators, Invenergy would build that project, too, in nearby Kenosha County; the utilities would have a similar 90/10 ownership agreement.

The Darien and Paris projects are part of WEC Energy Group’s plan to invest $2 billion in new solar, wind, and battery storage projects for its utilities by 2025. The parent company said these investments are part of its goal to cut carbon emissions 55% by 2025 and 70% by 2030.

The projects also would help MGE move away from coal, highlighted by the planned retirement of its co-owned Columbia Energy Center. In May 2019, MGE announced a goal of achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.

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