Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) say the 9 MW solar array at the Dane County Regional Airport is fully operational and delivering locally generated, sustainable energy to MGE’s distribution system.
The array will generate enough carbon-free electricity to provide Dane County with about 40% of the energy used by all county-owned facilities. It is the largest solar array in Dane County and the largest installation in Wisconsin built for a single customer.
“MGE appreciates the county’s partnership in moving this project forward,” says Jeff Keebler, chairman, president and CEO of MGE. “It serves as a great example of how, by working together, we can advance shared energy goals, including MGE’s goal of net-zero carbon electricity for all our customers by 2050. Travelers through the airport or along nearby Highway 51 will see this large array and know our community is committed to sustainability.”
The solar array consists of about 31,000 solar panels and covers 58 acres of county-owned land north of the airport. Dane County is leasing the land to MGE, and MGE will sell the energy to Dane County. In the spring, MGE will add pollinator plantings in certain areas of the array under the solar panels to boost pollinator habitat for dwindling monarch and honey bee populations.
MGE’s Renewable Energy Rider (RER) enables MGE to partner with a large energy user to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet that customer’s energy needs. The county entered into an RER agreement with MGE – which was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. RER customers are responsible for costs associated with the renewable generation facility and any distribution costs to deliver energy to the customer.
The 30-year service agreement specifies that the county will purchase approximately 18 million kWh annually, resulting in first year energy savings of approximately $137,000. There were no upfront capital requirements for Dane County.