Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission approved Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to purchase solar energy and battery storage power capacity from the Darien Solar Energy Center, a $478 million, 250 MW solar plus 75 MW battery storage facility in Rock and Walworth Counties, Wisconsin.
Madison Gas will own 25 megawatts (MW) of solar energy and 7.5 MW of battery storage from the 325 MW solar plus storage facility, which was developed by Invenergy, a Chicago-based renewable energy developer.
WEC Energy Group subsidiaries We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service will own the remaining 225 MW of the solar output and 67.5 MW of battery storage from the project, which the PSC has not yet approved. The facility is expected to begin operating by December 2024.
“The Darien Solar Energy Center is another important step in our ongoing transition to cleaner energy sources, reducing carbon at least 80% by the end of this decade and achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050,” said Jeff Keebler, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Madison Gas.
WEC Energy has told the public that the Darien project is needed to help meet capacity requirements as the utility retires a fleet of 1.39 GW coal-fired power plants over the next four years.
Madison Gas is seeking to replace its share of the coal-fired Columbia Energy Center, which is scheduled to shut down by 2026, with renewable energy resources such as the Darien Energy Center.
Westwood Professional Services is the construction manager for the project.
Located on 2,000 acres in the towns of Bradford and Darien, Wisconsin, the solar plus storage facility will use up to 850,000 solar panels and generate enough clean energy to power about 75,000 households.
Solar panels under consideration for use in the project include Canadian Solar, QCells, JA Solar, Jinko Solar, Longi, SunPower, Risen and Trina, according to documents submitted to the regulator by Invenergy affiliates.
The project developer favors bifacial silicon crystalline modules ranging from 350W to 600W DC per module. The developer highlighted the Jinko Eagle HC 72M-V and Longi LR4-72HBD as small to large case modules it may choose for the project.
For inverters, Invenergy flagged systems from Power Electronics (HEM), TMEIC (Solar Ware Ninja) and SMA Solar Technology (Sunny Central UP) for use in the project.
For trackers, the developer is evaluating products from Array Technologies, Soltec, Nextracker and FTC Solar for use in the Darien Energy Center.
Batteries for the storage system under evaluation range from 50 MWh to 200 MWh for the project.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Wisconsin ranked 26th in the country for solar deployments with 861 MW installed to date and 395 MW brought on in 2021 alone. The state ranks 11th in the U.S. for growth projections with 4.93 GW to be installed over the next five years.
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