On April 11, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Wisconsin’s first utility scale solar projects. According to PSC, the two projects together will more than quadruple Wisconsin’s solar capacity and produce enough energy to power 120,000 households annually.
The Two Creeks solar generation facility will be located in Manitowoc and Kewaunee counties near Two Rivers and have a capacity of 150 MW. The Badger Hollow solar generation facility will be located in Iowa County and have a capacity of 300 MW. Both of the projects are larger than any solar facilities in the Midwest, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The Badger Hollow project will be one of the largest in the country.
On the same day, PSC approved Madison Gas & Electric Company’s and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation’s $390 million acquisition of the Two Creeks facility and half of the Badger Hollow facility. The process of approving construction of a facility and the associated acquisitions on the same day is unprecedented at PSC. While the commissioners believed they used the right approach for this case, they were hesitant about making this bifurcated approval process the norm.
PSC Chairperson Rebecca Valcq and Commissioner Mike Huebsch voted 2-0 to approve the projects and purchase. Ellen Nowak is not currently on the Commission due to the ongoing extraordinary session litigation.
During discussion of the projects, Huebsch did express some concerns about solar’s large scale land use and the effect of taking so much land out of agricultural production. In addition, in response to some comments in record opposing the projects, Huebsch stated that it is up to the legislature whether Wisconsin should have solar siting rules or requirements. PSC declined in its Jan. 31 meeting a request from petitioners asking the agency to promulgate large scale solar siting rules.