Xcel Energy starts construction of community solar project in Wisconsin

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) broke ground Nov. 3 on the first Solar Connect Community project in Eau Claire, Wisconsin as part of 2 MW of community solar being developed by the power company in the state.

Work will begin on the site this month with the Eau Claire garden expected to be in service in early 2017.

The soon-to-be-constructed solar array will be on 7 ½ acres of an abandoned landfill near the company’s Wisconsin headquarters on West Hamilton Avenue in the Sky Park Industrial Park. Solar-developer Pristine Sun is leasing the property from the city of Eau Claire. A second similar-sized array is planned for the La Crosse area in 2017.

“Today 24% of the electricity our customers use is generated from clean, renewable resources, but some of our customers have said they wanted more options,” said Xcel Energy Wisconsin President Mark Stoering. “Through this  community solar garden, we are providing a local option for our customers who want to power some or all of the energy needs with solar energy, but cannot or do not want to install their own solar panels.”

The program is being offered to business and residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently, about 65% of the panels in the Eau Claire and La Crosse projects have been reserved. Developer-partner Pristine Sun, will own, operate and maintain the arrays.

When complete, Solar Connect Community, including the gardens in Eau Claire and near La Crosse, will produce up to 2,000 kilowatts of electricity available to any Xcel Energy Wisconsin electricity customer who wants to offset some or all of their electricity usage with renewable energy. The program is revenue neutral for Xcel Energy and paid for by only the customers who choose to subscribe. These customers will receive bill credits for 25 years

Xcel Energy continues to offer subscriptions at a cost of $1,780 per kilowatt. The minimum subscription size is 200 watts for an upfront cost of $356, which would produce enough energy to offset about 3% of an average residential customer’s usage. Subscriptions can be sized up to 100% of a customer’s average annual usage, not to exceed 400 kilowatts.

Customers will pay a deposit of $200 per kilowatt, with the remainder of the subscription fee due when the solar garden is operational, likely in early 2017.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.