EGEB: Wisconsin 150 MW solar farm approved despite pushback

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Wisconsin approves Alliant Energy’s Onion River solar farm, which will be one of the state’s largest.
  • Southwest Florida launches a 74.5-megawatt community solar farm.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Wisconsin solar farm approved

Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission voted unanimously yesterday to approve the 150 MW, 1,400-acre Onion River Solar Farm that will be in the town of Holland in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan. It will feature a prairie and pollinator environment. Livestock could graze between solar panel rows, according to Renew Wisconsin, a nonprofit that promotes clean energy. (Onion River says it’ll look like North Star Solar in North Branch, Minnesota, pictured above.)

But some Wisconsin residents weren’t happy about the proposed solar farm. The Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Commissioners noted and dismissed objections based on use of crop land, potential loss of property values, and the process through which private developers secure leases before seeking regulatory approval.

“Not everyone is going to see things the same way,” said Commissioner Tyler Huebner. “On balance… this project is in the public interest for the state of Wisconsin.”

Onion River is expected to generate $250,000 annually in revenue for Holland and $350,000 annually for Sheboygan County. It will also prevent more than 400 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being generated per year and provide clean energy to Alliant Energy customers.

Onion River is one of six Wisconsin solar farms currently being built for Madison-based Alliant Energy. It’s part of the company’s first phase to add nearly 1,100 megawatts of solar by 2024 to replace its two remaining coal-fired plants that will be retired in 2025. Closing those coal plants and investing in solar will save the company “up to $6.5 billion in additional costs over the next 35 years,” reports PV Magazine. Alliant filed a separate application in April to acquire six more solar farms for about $515 million.

In 2019, for the first time in more than three decades, coal-fired power plants provided less than half (42%) of Wisconsin’s electricity net generation, according to the US Energy Information Administration. (Natural gas fuels 34% of the state’s electricity.) But only 8% of Wisconsin’s electricity came from renewables, and thus why the state is rapidly installing solar.

Florida community solar

Florida Power & Lightʻs new FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center is now supplying customers with electricity. The 74.5-megawatt FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center is located in DeSoto County, Florida, east of Venice, and made up of around 300,000 solar panels. It’s capable of powering around 15,000 homes.

Rodeo Solar Energy Center is the fifth solar farm in DeSoto, making the county No. 1 for most solar farms in the Sunshine State. 

It’s the county’s second solar energy center built to support the US’s largest community solar program, FPL SolarTogether. Customers pay a fixed monthly subscription charge and immediately start receiving bill credits. Over time, credits will be more than the monthly charge, lowering the bill.

FPL has 33 active solar farms in Florida with more than 9 million installed panels. FPL’s goal is to have 30 million solar panels installed by 2030.

Florida Power & Light is the largest energy company in the US as measured by retail electricity produced and sold.

Photo: Onion River Solar

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.