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Dairyland Power Announces More Solar Projects

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Two new projects will be located in northwest Wisconsin and one in northeast Iowa

La Crosse, WI— Dairyland Power Cooperative has finalized agreements for three additional utility-scale solar generation projects, bringing Dairyland’s total number of solar installations under contract to 15. The three new projects will increase the total solar generation from 15 megawatts (MW) to 20 MW in the Dairyland cooperative system.

“Dairyland is celebrating our 75th anniversary this year and the 15 solar projects are an exciting example of our commitment to providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy far into the future. The current amount of solar generation in Wisconsin will nearly double through our expanding solar initiative,” said Barbara Nick, President and CEO.

Two of the new projects will be located in northwest Wisconsin and one in northeast Iowa. Following are the locations, projected scale and local electric cooperative of the three new projects:

  • Centuria, Wis., 1 MW (Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative)
  • New Auburn, Wis., 2.5 MW (Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative)
  • Strawberry Point, Iowa, 1.3 MW (Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative)

Last year, Dairyland issued a request for proposals (RFP) for solar generation resources. Earlier this year, Dairyland announced that agreements were in place for 12 new solar facilities in Wisconsin; the addition of three new projects will bring the total installations to 15. Together, the solar facilities will be able to produce enough renewable energy to power over 3,000 homes.

The power purchase agreements for the three new projects and 11 of 12 of the previously announced projects are with SoCore Energy (Chicago, Ill.). One agreement is with groSolar (White River Junction, Vt.). The developers will install, own, operate and maintain the solar facilities.

Facts, figures and timeline

The solar installations will range between .5 MW to 2.5 MW in scale. They will be tracking systems which follow the path of the sun to increase energy production. The first projects will begin coming online in early November. All are expected to be operational in early 2017.

As a cooperative initiative, the solar facilities are being built in the service areas of Dairyland’s member electric cooperatives. The advantages of multiple projects in separate locations include: diversified weather, distributed grid infrastructure impacts and locally-based renewable energy.Although these projects constitute Dairyland’s largest solar investments to date, Dairyland also purchases energy from other major solar installations (Westby, Wis., Oronoco, Minn., and Galena, Ill.). Dairyland’s Solar for Schools renewable energy and education initiative has established solar generation at three high schools and one college campus in its western Wisconsin service territory. In addition, there are over 700 consumer-owned distributed generation solar installations in Dairyland’s service area.

Collaborative process brings opportunity for adjacent “Community Solar Gardens”
The Dairyland solar projects have sparked a number of community solar projects in the cooperative system. In conjunction with Dairyland’s utility-scale projects, many of Dairyland’s member distribution cooperatives are offering community solar projects to their member-consumers. Community solar provides an opportunity for cooperative member-consumers to invest in or own solar generation without maintenance or location concerns. SoCore is the community solar developer.

Solar sites double as Pollinator Gardens

All the solar generation sites will also provide beneficial bee and butterfly habitat. The solar developers will use native seed mixes of grasses and flowering forbs to create certified pollinator gardens at each solar site. In addition to helping sustain and grow bee and butterfly populations, the pollinator gardens will help reduce storm water runoff, increasing site protection from erosion.

Previously announced projects

Following are the original 12 projects (listed by developer) which were announced in February 2016:

groSolar:

Phillips, Wis., 2.5 MW (Price Electric Cooperative)

SoCore Energy:

  • Viola, Wis., .5 MW (Richland Electric Cooperative)
  • Roberts, Wis., 2 MW (St. Croix Electric Cooperative)
  • Conrath, Wis., 1 MW (Jump River Electric Cooperative)
  • Necedah, Wis., 1.5 MW (Oakdale Electric Cooperative)
  • Menomonie, Wis., 1 MW (Dunn Energy Cooperative)
  • Medford, Wis., 2 MW (Taylor Electric Cooperative)
  • Liberty Pole, Wis., 1 MW (Vernon Electric Cooperative)
  • Hillsboro, Wis., 1 MW (Vernon Electric Cooperative)
  • Town of Hallie, Wis., 1 MW (Eau Claire Energy Cooperative)
  • Mt. Hope, Wis., 1 MW (Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative)
  • Arcadia, Wis., 1 MW (Riverland Energy Cooperative)

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Dairyland Power Cooperative

With headquarters in La Crosse, Wis., Dairyland (www.dairylandpower.com) provides wholesale electricity to 25 member distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities.

A Touchstone Energy Cooperative, Dairyland’s service area encompasses 62 counties in four states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois). Dairyland’s resources include coal, natural gas, hydro, solar, wind and landfill gas.

SoCore Energy

SoCore Energy (www.SoCoreEnergy.com) offers companies, electric cooperatives and communities solar solutions that provide energy savings and carbon reduction. SoCore is a subsidiary of Edison International. SoCore works together with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) to support the development of solar for rural electric cooperatives and their members.

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