Bayfield County (population 15,008) will achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity for government operations this year, 30 years in advance of the governor’s Executive Order #38 goal of 100 percent by 2050. Having passed an Energy Independent Community (EI Community) Resolution in 2009, along with the Chequamegon Bay area, the County has been working to reach 25% percent renewable energy locally for county operations by 2025. By analyzing their progress for the EI Community Survey, they found they were already three quarters of the way to achieving the Governor’s goal. So, on February 25, the Bayfield County Board passed a 100 Percent Carbon-Free Electricity Resolution and will purchase the remaining 26% of its electricity that is not carbon-free from green-e certified sources at a nominal cost.
How Bayfield County Achieves 100%
There are 4 components to their 100% carbon-free electricity path (see figure): local on-site generation, community solar garden RECs, utility electric mix, and green-e power purchase. Bayfield County generates 43% percent carbon-free electricity locally through 174 kW solar PV installed on county facilities (see photo) plus 195 kW from local community solar gardens (190 KW from Xcel Energy and 5.1 kW from Bayfield Electric Coop). Additionally, they receive 56% carbon-free electricity from Xcel Energy (upper Midwest mix includes 30% nuclear). To cover the remaining 256,000 kWh, Bayfield County is entering into a 5-year agreement to purchase green-e certified energy primarily from Xcel Renewable Connect (sourced from Minnesota). This will bring Bayfield County to 100% carbon-free electricity at a cost of $1600 a year.
In recognition of their achievements in clean energy, Governor Tony Evers presented Bayfield County with a Certificate of Commendation.
Bayfield County Carbon-Free Electricity Sources
The Bayfield County Annex, which houses the sheriff, health, veterans, emergency and criminal justice departments, with the jail building in the back, has 100 kW of solar PV. The solar installations were added over the years starting with the solar thermal panels on the jail 10 years ago. The County installed another 40 kW of solar on the Highway Garage as well.
Photo courtesy of Cheq Bay Renewables