State News

Alliant Energy to increase solar panel usage across state

Renew Wisconsin estimated the plan will create about 1,600 jobs during construction.

Renew Wisconsin estimated the plan will create about 1,600 jobs during construction.

Image By: Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Alliant Energy announced a plan today to bring 1,000 megawatts of solar energy to Wisconsin by 2023 — enough to power approximately 260,000 homes, according to the company. 

Part of their “Powering What’s Next Plan,” the company plans to break ground on their first “Community Solar” site in Fond du Lac County in 2020. 

“By building new solar energy resources, we are contributing to a brighter future for our customers and the communities we serve,” David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy—Wisconsin said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our employees and labor partners in the construction, operation and maintenance of our new clean energy investments.”

Alliant said “changing economics, customer sustainability goals and better renewable technology are driving the acceleration.”

Groups across the state spoke out about Alliant’s decision, some calling for added measures to the company’s proposal.

In a statement by Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy group, Energy & Air Program Director Scott Blankman applauded Alliant with added recommendations for future action. 

“By and large, we applaud Alliant’s investment in clean energy, especially at this scale. We’re pleased that they are actively accelerating their transition towards renewables and putting solar power to work for their customers in communities around Wisconsin,” Blankman said. “However, there is ample room for Alliant to move even faster in their transition away from fossil fuel energy generation.”

Renew Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner said the cost for solar power declined by 80 percent in the past decade, making Alliant’s proposal a smart move, according to the nonprofit organization. 

Cities in Wisconsin have recently seen a push in incorporating more renewable energy into future power plans.

Following the Climate Strike last month, The Madison Sustainability Committee and Madison Gas and Electric passed a resolution to create a five-megawatt Renewable Energy Rider Project. 

The project is part of Madison’s goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and plans to cover nearly 20 percent of Madison’s current electricity by providing renewable energy to power all or a portion of local businesses.

Blankman believes Alliant should push for stronger renewable energy goals.

“We encourage Alliant to join the state of Wisconsin and other utilities in committing to a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 and to retire their remaining Columbia and Edgewater coal plants as soon as possible,” Blankman said. 

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