Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Solar Farm at Dane County Regional Airport Set for County Board Approval Tonight

October 17, 2019
Ariana Vruwink, (608) 267-8823
County Executive

Renewable Energy Agreement with MGE Will Supply 40% of County Facilities Power Demand, Lower Electric Bills, and Create Fewer Climate Changing Emissions

The largest solar farm in Dane County and one of the largest solar installations in the State of Wisconsin is set for final approval tonight by the Dane County Board of Supervisors.  The County Board will consider two resolutions—one for the lease of airport-owned property and a second resolution approving a service agreement with MGE for the purchase of renewable electricity.

Dane County is entering into a service agreement with MGE for the purchase of renewable electricity produced by a 9-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar system to be installed at the Dane County Regional Airport. When complete, the PV solar system will span approximately 58 acres of airport property and include more than 31,000 solar panels. The county’s purchase of renewable electricity from this airport solar project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equivalent to the emissions produced by 2,700 cars or the burning of 7,000 tons of coal per year.

“Increasing the county’s use of renewable electricity will reduce climate changing carbon emissions, create local clean energy jobs, and save taxpayer dollars,” said County Executive Joe Parisi.  “This historic project brings the county closer to achieving its commitment to becoming 100% renewable at its facilities.”

The county will lease property north of the Dane County Regional Airport to MGE.  MGE will own and finance the construction and operation of the $16.7 million PV solar system at the airport site to serve the electric power needs of the county.

"MGE supports the County's efforts to achieve 100% renewable energy for its facilities and shares the goal of a cleaner energy future for our community," said MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. "MGE is targeting net-zero carbon electricity for all customers by the year 2050. This solar partnership advances shared goals."

The new solar project is estimated to produce approximately 40% of the county’s electricity needs to power county-owned facilities. The 30-year service agreement between Dane County and MGE specifies that the solar project will produce approximately 18 million kilowatt-hours annually, resulting in first year energy savings for the county of approximately $137,000. There is no upfront capital requirement for Dane County. All construction costs will be borne by MGE. The service agreement must be approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin prior to the start of construction. Additional approvals also are needed from the Federal Aviation Administration and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Dane County and MGE are expected to break ground on the solar project in the spring of 2020, with construction expected to culminate by the end of the summer. The array is expected to go online in the fall of 2020. 

Dane County currently owns more solar than any other county in the state, generating more than 600 kW of power at 16 county-owned facilities. The solar project will be the third solar installation at the Dane County Regional Airport. It will also double as a boost to pollinator habitat for dwindling monarch and honey-bee populations.

This solar project is being pursued under MGE's new Renewable Energy Rider, which gives MGE and large energy users the opportunity to partner to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet a customer's needs. The innovative model is one way to grow renewable energy in our community.

MGE is targeting net-zero carbon electricity by the year 2050. In the near term, under MGE's Energy 2030 framework for a more sustainable future, MGE has been working toward carbon dioxide emissions reductions of at least 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels, which is consistent with U.S. emissions targets established as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change. To reach these goals, MGE is growing its use of renewable energy, engaging customers around energy efficiency and facilitating the electrification of transportation, all of which are key strategies identified for deep decarbonization.

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