Alliant Energy has announced it intends to buy a planned solar farm project in northern Rock County as the electric utility makes a major foray into solar power.
In separate announcements May 26, Alliant and renewable energy developer Geronimo Energy said Alliant will buy North Rock Solar, a 50-megawatt solar power development Geronimo plans to build on 440 acres of farmland in the town of Fulton.
The announcement comes after the town in March approved the solar development as an allowable use of land, and it's one of six developments statewide Alliant says will help it reach 1,000 megawatts of solar projects in Wisconsin by 2023.
All told, Alliant announced six Wisconsin solar projects Tuesday. Those projects would account for 675 megawatts of power. Locally, the Rock County project and a nearby Jefferson County solar project Alliant also announced Tuesday would total 125 megawatts.
Alliant and Geronimo said the Fulton solar farm will generate enough electricity to power up to 12,000 homes.
Although final regulatory approval is pending, plans are for North Rock Solar to break ground sometime in 2021 with completion in 2022, Geronimo said.
Alliant announced it has filed for approval of the solar projects with the Public Service Commission, the state's independent regulatory agency that oversees utilities.
Alliant and Geronimo officials said Geronimo will continue acting as developer of North Rock Solar, and Alliant will acquire the solar farm after "regulatory approvals and other contractual commitments are complete."
Geronimo, a Minneapolis-based company, is one of four renewable energy developers who plan to sell solar developments to Alliant under the plan announced May 26.
In a statement, Ben Lipari, director of resource development at Alliant, said Wisconsin has a "bright future" in renewable energy. He said that in addition to construction jobs the solar projects will generate, Alliant believes the developments will create "significant tax revenue" for local municipalities and "establish reliable income" for landowners who lease property where the projects are located.
Geronimo has said that when completed, North Rock Solar will operate for 25 to 35 years before being decommissioned. After that, the solar panels and infrastructure will be removed and the land returned to farmland.