We Energies, MGE Investing $195M In Badger Hollow Solar Farm

Utilities File Joint Application To PSC To Own Remaining Power In Farm

Solar energy panels
Martin Abegglen (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

We Energies and Madison Gas and Electric are partnering to acquire the remaining power at the Badger Hollow Solar Farm, the state’s first solar farm and the largest of its kind in the Midwest.

The two utilities announced late Thursday that they filed a filed a joint application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for ownership.

“This is another significant step in our transition to a clean energy future,” Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO of WEC Energy Group said in a written statement. “Along with the environmental benefits of solar energy, this purchase will lower costs to customers over the life of the project.”

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If approved, Milwaukee-based We Energies — a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group — will own 150 megawatts of the 300 megawatt Badger Hollow farm. MGE would own 50 megawatts.

In May, MGE and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. — also a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group — received regulatory approval to own a combined total of 150 megawatts at Badger Hollow for the first phase of the farm project. Commercial operation of this phase is expected by the end of 2020.

According to the application, We Energies and MGE will invest $194.9 million in what is being called Badger Hollow II. This price includes the capital cost of the solar facilities, transmission tie-in equipment and owners’ costs.

The savings to customers is expected to be approximately $29 million for We Energy customers and approximately $17 million for MGE customers over the next 30 years, according to the application.

“This addition of cost-effective solar energy will help MGE reach our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by the year 2050 while also helping us to manage long-term costs to our customers,” Jeff Keebler, MGE chairman, president and CEO, said in a written statement. “This is yet another step in our active transition toward greater use of cleaner energy sources to serve our community.”

If regulators approve this acquisition, the second phase of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm would begin generating electricity in 2021.

Badger Hollow will be located in southwestern Wisconsin, in Iowa County, near the villages of Montfort and Cobb, about 12 miles west of Dodgeville.

In April, the PSC approved the Badger Hollow Solar Farm. A second solar farm, the Two Creeks Solar Project, in Manitowoc and Kewaunee counties is also underway. Together the farms will produce 450 megawatts of energy, the equivalent of about 1 percent of the state’s annual energy use.

WPR and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism previously reported on how the Badger Hollow plan divided neighbors in Dodgeville. Some landowners and farmers worry the solar farms will disrupt their way of life and devalue their land.