Friday, April 4, 2014

Dairyland Power Plans Commercial Solar Project, by Danielle Cook

Dairyland Power Cooperative is adding a new renewable solar energy project to its upcoming resource project list. The facility is expected to be open and functioning by the beginning of June 2014, with construction beginning this spring.  About 520 kilowatts of energy will be installed, producing enough power to maintain up to 60 households.


Dairyland, working as a network of small consumer-owned facilities, already has diverse renewable energy sources, including wind, biomass, biogas, hydro, and solar energy resources. Dairyland’s own resources account for 12.5% of the energy its members receive, exceeding Wisconsin’s set renewable energy requirements, according to company estimates.


The new Clean Energy Collective is collaborating with Dairyland Power to bring this project to Westby, Wisconsin, next to Vernon Electric Cooperative’s center of operations. The renewable energy generated at the facility will be developed, run, and owned by Clean Energy Collective, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.


“Solar-powered generation was part of our long-term resource plan, and this project is a good fit with Dairyland’s overall strategic plan,” explained Bill Berg, president and CEO of Dairyland.


Dairyland continues to work on its initial commercial solar energy project, north of Rochester, Minnesota, begun in January of this year. Minnesota Three, LLC will own and manage the energy facility, to fulfill Dairyland’s 2012 settlement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The project will furthermore fulfill environmental mitigation standards agreed upon with the EPA.


Excess energy output from a 368 kilowatt solar facility in Galena, Illinois is also bought by Dairyland. Dairyland works with over 350 customer-owned solar photovoltaic production centers in its system, from its headquarters  in La Crosse, WI. Dairyland provides electricity and energy to 25 member distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities, in four states and a total of 62 counties.