Jefferson aims to capitalize on location with solar farm
From an article by in the Wisconsin State Journal:
A 110-acre farm proposed for the north side of Jefferson won’t grow corn, raise chickens or produce milk.
Instead, its harvest will come from the sun.
A Florida company wants to build a $100 million, 20-megawatt solar farm capable of producing enough power for 3,500 homes and generating about $10 million in revenue a year with its 100,000 photovoltaic modules.
Construction on the project, the company’s first, could start this fall and be completed by the fall of 2011 or spring of 2012.
And now the question that begs to be answered: Why Jefferson?
“We see an opportunity where the regulatory environment is very reasonable,” said Jeff Lord, chief executive officer of Green States Energy in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “We are interested in doing more projects in Wisconsin and we’ve been exploring that as well as in other states as well.”
States such as Nevada, California and Arizona have some of the best environments for producing electricity from solar farms but communities and power companies in those states are being inundated with solar proposals, which has slowed development, Lord said. Environmental studies required for the fragile desert ecosystem also have delayed projects.
“It’s very complicated and the process takes a long time,” Lord said. “You add all that up and you have an elongated time line, a lot of red tape and a lot of cost.”
The project, dubbed Jefferson Sun 1, would be built on farmland purchased over the last 15 years by the city for development. The land is just north of the former Briggs & Stratton plant and just south of the Valero Energy Corp. ethanol plant.
Green States would sell power to Sun Prairie-based WPPI Energy, which provides electricity to city-owned Jefferson Utilities, among others. Green States is negotiating a power purchase agreement with WPPI and what could be a 30-year lease agreement with the city for the land. It also needs an inter-connectivity agreement with the city to get power to the city-owned substation and a conditional-use permit from the plan commission. Agreements and city approval are expected by the end of next month, said Tim Freitag, city administrator.