Wisconsin regulators have approved Xcel Energy’s $104.5 million purchase of a solar farm under development in northwest Wisconsin.
The 74-megawatt Western Mustang facility is Xcel’s first large-scale solar investment in Wisconsin, though the utility has three 1-megawatt community solar gardens where customers can lease panels.
Xcel projects it will need to add at least 3,000 megawatts of solar capacity across its Minnesota and Wisconsin territories over the next decade in order to cut carbon emissions by 80%. Xcel was the nation’s first large investor-owned utility to commit to generating carbon-neutral electricity by 2050.
By studying thousands of years of fossilized pollen, scientists found the planet’s vegetation is changing as fast today as it did at the end of the last ice age.
Xcel said the Western Mustang project will cost its roughly 260,000 customers in Wisconsin and northern Michigan about $7 million less than alternative generators over the project’s 35-year lifespan.
The Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the purchase.
The 1,055-acre project, being developed by Ranger Power, has a conditional use permit from Pierce County but does not require a construction permit from the PSC because it is less than 100 megawatts.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the temporary changes made to adapt to the pandemic can be a template for “once in a generation” opportunity to combat climate change with little sacrifice.
The PSC earlier this year authorized Alliant Energy to spend about $925 million on six solar plants and is considering the utility’s application to spend $515 million on six more.