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Regulators approve 325-megawatt solar-plus-storage project in Walworth County
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Regulators approve 325-megawatt solar-plus-storage project in Walworth County

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Wisconsin regulators unanimously approved construction Thursday of a 325-megawatt solar farm with battery storage in southeastern Wisconsin.

The Darien Solar Energy Center will sit on about 2,000 acres in Walworth and Rock counties between Delavan and Beloit and will produce enough electricity for about 75,000 homes.

Developed by Chicago-based Invenergy, the project includes 250 megawatts of solar generation and a 75-megawatt battery system.

It is the ninth utility-scale solar project approved by the Public Service Commission, which has now authorized construction of nearly 1,650 megawatts of solar generation capacity.

The commission is separately considering a request from We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric to buy the project for $451 million.

Public sentiment on the project was mixed. Proponents cited the economic benefits, with some area residents voicing concerns about the potential impact on wildlife, property values, their views and the loss of farm land.

Gary Kincaid, whose family is leasing their farm for the project, said those concerns are misplaced.

“When people comment farmers need to feed the world they apparently haven’t looked at the farmers’ bottom line or noticed that the U.S. has 3 billion bushels of corn carryover this year alone and no reason to think it will go down,” he wrote. “Farming these days is tough. Solar panels provide a diversity of land use and fits into our farm’s financial plans for the future.”

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