Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), in partnership with We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group, is seeking approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to purchase solar energy and battery storage from the Darien Solar Energy Center. If approved, MGE will own 25 megawatts (MW) of solar energy and 7.5 MW of battery storage from the 250-MW solar park to be built in the Town of Bradford in Rock County and the Town of Darien in Walworth County.
"The Darien Solar Energy Center is another step in MGE's ongoing transition to greater use of cleaner energy sources and carbon reductions of at least 65% by 2030 and our goal of net-zero carbon by 2050," said Jeff Keebler, MGE Chairman, President and CEO. "Further investment in cost-effective, clean energy and battery storage technology will allow us to continue reliably serving our customers as we work together to meet our carbon reduction goals. We have said since introducing our clean energy and carbon reduction goals—if we can go further faster, we will."
The Darien Solar Energy Center will help MGE to meet future energy and capacity needs cost-effectively as the company continues its ongoing transition away from coal-fired electricity with the planned retirement of the Columbia Energy Center in Portage by the end of 2024. The project, if approved, is part of more than 230 MW of new solar capacity announced since MGE introduced its Energy 2030 framework for a more sustainable future in November 2015.
Darien Solar Energy Center
If approved, the Darien Solar Energy Center will be developed and constructed by Invenergy LLC, which filed an application for the project with the PSCW in July 2020. The 2,000-acre project is expected to feature up to 850,000 solar panels. We Energies and WPS will own the remaining 225 MW of the output and 67.5 MW of battery storage from the project.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2021, if approved. The Darien Solar Energy Center is expected to begin serving customers by the end of 2023. MGE's share of the Darien Solar Energy Center will power about 7,500 households.
MGE's net-zero carbon electricity goal
In May 2019, MGE announced its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050, making it one of the first utilities in the nation to commit to net-zero carbon by mid-century. MGE's net-zero goal is consistent with the latest climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 2018 Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To achieve deep decarbonization, MGE is growing its use of renewable energy, engaging customers around energy efficiency and working to electrify transportation, all of which are key strategies identified by the IPCC.