Local Companies Invest in Renewable Energy
by Gabriella Shell, age 14
Madison was ranked 64th least sustainable out of 100 big cities by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Two companies with bases in Madison, Xcel Energy and Alliant Energy, are seeking to change that ranking by investing in solar farms.
Xcel Energy is spending $100 million to develop a 1,100 acre solar plant in Pierce County, which will be the largest solar plant in the state once complete. Similarly, Alliant Energy plans on buying two solar farms which together will have 115 megawatts of capacity.
Both Xcel Energy and Alliant Energy have plans to go completely carbon-free by 2050. While Xcel already has 760 megawatts of solar energy across the nation, only three of those are currently in Wisconsin. These proposed plants will be the first large-scale solar plants throughout the state, which currently runs largely on carbon.
Xcel plans on beginning construction in 2021 and opening operations in 2022. Alliant Energy’s plants are already under development, though they do not plan to operate until 2023. Alliant plans on investing in more solar plants over the next decade with a combined energy output of 675 megawatts, costing Alliant Energy nearly $900 million.
More companies, such as Madison Gas and Electric and WEC Energy Group, are following the lead of Xcel Energy and Alliant Energy and plan on purchasing solar farms over the next few years in an attempt to make Wisconsin carbon-neutral by 2050.
[Sources: Madison.com; Alliant Energy; Xcel Energy]