Xcel Energy is seeking to buy a 74-megawatt solar farm under development in northwestern Wisconsin that would be the utility’s first large-scale solar plant in the state, while Alliant Energy has plans to purchase two farms in southern Wisconsin with 115 megawatts of capacity.
The utility announced Monday it had reached an agreement with Ranger Power to buy the 1,100-acre project in Pierce County for approximately $100 million.
Ranger Power has already received the local permits required to build the plant, but Xcel will need approval from the Public Service Commission to purchase it.
Citing lax building standards and a lack of community-wide energy initiatives, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Madison 64th out of 100 cities, behind Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Xcel said it plans to file an application later this week. If approved, construction is expected to start next year, with the plant expected to begin operation in 2022.
Mark Stoering, president of Xcel’s Wisconsin subsidiary, said the project represents the company’s commitment to renewable energy.
“We are pleased to invest in this locally sourced solar facility to provide even more renewable energy to our customers,” Stoering said.
Xcel, the first major utility to target carbon-free electricity by 2050, has more than 760 megawatts of large-scale solar capacity on its system, including 74 megawatts in Minnesota but just 3 megawatts of community-owned solar generation in Wisconsin, where the company serves about 250,000 customers.
Capital Dynamics last week announced it had sold 65- and 50-megawatt plants under development in Rock and Green counties to Alliant. Both are expected to begin operation in 2023. The investment firm did not disclose the sale price.
Both projects are part of the Madison-based utility’s plans to add 1,000 megawatts of solar to its portfolio. The purchase will require approval by the PSC, although Alliant has not filed an application.
Earlier this year, Alliant Energy announced plans to invest about $900 million in six proposed projects with a combined capacity of 675 megawatts.
Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar farm is expected to begin operation later this year, with at least 10 more expected to enter service over the next two years.
Madison Gas and Electric and WEC Energy Group together own two solar farms under construction with a combined capacity of 450 megawatts.
Alliant Energy has joined a small but growing group of utilities aiming for carbon-neutral electricity by 2050.