Solar wins big as Wisconsin regulators approve Alliant capacity additions


Wisconsin regulators voted to allow Alliant Energy’s subsidiary, Wisconsin Power and Light, to buy or build, own, and operate six solar electric facilities with a combined capacity of 675 MW.

In its April 22 decision, regulators approved Alliant’s bid for:

  • 200 MW from the Grant County Solar project;
  • 150 MW from the Wood County Solar project;
  • 150 MW from the Onion River Solar project in Sheboygan County;
  • 75 MW from the Crawfish River Solar project in Jefferson County;
  • 50 MW from the North Rock Solar project in Rock County; and
  • 50 MW from the Richland County Solar project.

The estimated total cost of the solar projects is $887 million. Regulators said that Alliant’s customers will see savings of around $127 million due to the retirement of higher cost coal-fired generation.

Prior to the decision, the regulatory body had approved 1,078 MW of utility-scale solar generation in Wisconsin.

Renew Wisconsin called the Earth Day decision “the most significant advance yet towards a zero-carbon future in Wisconsin.”

In late March, Alliant filed a separate application to acquire an additional six solar farms for about $515 million. As proposed to state regulators, the six newest projects would be developed in mostly rural parts of five counties. Once the projects are operational, Alliant said local communities would receive around $50 million in shared revenues for the next 30 years. Over the same period, local landowners would receive a combined $60 million in lease payments.

News reports said that about a dozen people opposed the acquisition proposal based on concerns about loss of farmland, environmental impacts, and potential loss of property values.

Alliant plans to retire its two remaining coal plants by 2025 as it seeks to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2030. The company has said that replacing coal plants with up to 1,000 MW of solar capacity can avoid up to $6.5 billion in additional costs over the next 35 years.

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