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Regulators approve Wood County solar farm; PSC has now approved over 1 gigawatt of solar
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Regulators approve Wood County solar farm; PSC has now approved over 1 gigawatt of solar

Wisconsin regulators have authorized construction of a 150-megawatt solar farm in Wood County that Alliant Energy is seeking to buy as part of a $900 million investment in clean energy.

The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to let Savion Energy build the plant on about 1,200 acres of mostly woodland in the town of Saratoga south of Wisconsin Rapids.

The commission is separately considering Alliant’s application to purchase the project for about $194 million.

Wood County solar farm map

According to an environmental assessment, the land is owned by Golden Sands and Full Circle Farmland and primarily used as a red pine plantation for timber production.

The project received widespread public support but was opposed by a couple whose property is abutted on three sides by the project area.

Under Wisconsin law, the project owner will pay $600,000 a year to the county and town.

Alliant has proposed to build or buy six solar farms that together would supply enough electricity to power about 175,000 homes and is expected to file applications this year for another 325 megawatts of solar generation.

With the town of Saratoga project, the PSC has now approved six large-scale solar plants with a combined capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts.

Commissioner Tyler Huebner called the vote “a little bit of a milestone.”

Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar farm, a 150-megawatt plant in Manitowoc County, was completed last fall. Work is underway on a 300-megawatt farm in Iowa County.

Power plants of 100 megawatts or more require approval from the PSC. Smaller projects are subject to local approval.

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