Beaver Dam Moves to Diversify with Free-Market Solar Financing

The Beaver Dam City Council voted unanimously on December 2 to sign a MOU with Bluestem Energy Solutions to install almost two thirds of a megawatt of solar PV at two city facilities. This includes a 600 kWac single-axis tracking PV system at the wastewater treatment plant, and a fixed 25 kWac ground mount array at the lift station. The projects would be developed, owned and operated by Bluestem, a Nebraska-based developer of distributed energy systems, and aggregated, possibly with a 48 kW solar parking canopy at the library along with solar power from local businesses. Systems would be interconnected behind-the-meter and put no electrons on the grid. The 30-year contract would be at $0.071 per kWh with a 1.5 percent annual rate increase. 
In Wisconsin, where the viability of third-party solar financing is in the courts, Bluestem is working from a different model. They will develop solar PV for City facilities under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA), which promotes domestic renewable energy, and requires all state-regulated utilities to purchase power from PURPA qualified facilities.  With PURPA QF status, a solar PV project is exempt from PSC approval for construction of an electric generation facility.
Beaver Dam is an Energy Independent Community (EIC) with a goal to achieve 25 percent renewable energy locally by 2020 and 35 percent by 2025. The City created its EIC Plan in 2017, and has aggressively moved forward with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects since (see Energy On WI NewsMay 2019October 2018). They have garnered grants and third-party contracts, and are partnering with their utility, Alliant Energy. Mayor Glewen sees this MOU with Bluestem as “…a unique, tangible opportunity for the city and our businesses to move together on a path toward a clean energy economy and future”. DailyDodgeDailyCitizen