In June 2021, Dane County’s largest solar array became operational. The 20MW O’Brien Solar Fields owned by Madison Gas & Electric encompasses 160 acres and over 60,000 panels on farmland in Fitchburg. The arrays consist of bifacial solar panels that track the sun and that are organized in “self-powered independent rows”. UW-Madison is purchasing half of the output, which will offset 5 percent of campus energy use. The other 10MW is purchased by Fitchburg businesses Placon and Promega, the City of Fitchburg, the WIsconsin Department of Administration, and others. UW-MadisonNews
The newest utility-scale solar project in Dane County, submitted for approval to the PSC by Invenergy in April, would be 15 times larger or 300MW plus contain 165MW of battery storage to help ensure power to customers during severe climate events. The Koshkonong project would encompass 4,600 acres in the Towns of Deerfield and Christiana west of Cambridge. Wisconsin Electric Power Company would own 75 percent, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation 15 percent, and Madison Gas and Electric Company 10 percent.
The large scale solar project is stirring controversy locally with some farmers supporting keeping the land from housing development, and building the soil under solar panels while they garner the revenue. Others object to the scale and location which, in part, overlaps with an area slated for development and that would generate tax revenues for the school. Invenergy has been meeting with local community members and the school district. The PSC should make a ruling by year’s end. madison.com, MGE