PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (AP) — With several commercial solar farms in the planning stages in Jefferson County, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is going all-in on solar, with plans to install five acres of panels that would become the largest state-owned solar array in Wisconsin.
The Platteville project will supply campus with about 17% of its annual electricity and save the school $217,000 a year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the project will make the university the sixth-highest on-site producer of renewable energy among universities nationwide.
The solar project has been in the works for years, with final approvals just this month. Professor Amy Seeboth-Wilson said construction will begin as soon as weather permits.
Work should be done by the time students return to campus this fall. The project will also give students across several majors a chance to work together. Plans include eventually having a flock of sheep to keep down the grass and other plants around the panels.
The solar array comes at a time when some state leaders are pushing for more sustainable energy throughout Wisconsin. Late last year, the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change recommended a number of measures to pivot the state to more sustainable practices, including sustainable energy, reducing carbon emissions and the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice.
Ranger Power, a New York-based solar energy company focused on developing utility-scale solar projects in the Midwest, has been working with interested area farmers and landowners to develop Jefferson County’s Badger State Solar, which is being planned for siting on approximately 1,000 acres of privately owned, relatively flat, open land. Another set of solar installations is being planned for possible location near the Rock River between Watertown and Concord.