Xcel Energy has announced that a 1 MW community solar garden in Eau Claire, Wis., is now generating clean, renewable energy for project subscribers under the utility’s Solar*Connect Community program.
Xcel Energy – along with the City of Eau Claire, which owns the seven-acre property, developer Pristine Sun, and subscribers – celebrated the project’s completion at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. More than 3,000 solar panels sit atop an abandoned landfill near the utility’s Wisconsin headquarters on West Hamilton Avenue in the Sky Park Industrial Park.
“This is an exciting day for Xcel Energy and our solar subscribers,” said Mark Stoering, president of Xcel Energy-Wisconsin. “We have a long history of renewable energy in Wisconsin, tracing our roots back to 1872 with some of the state’s first hydro facilities. Now, we can add the first of our Solar*Connect Community projects to the list.”
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was one of the early subscribers to the solar garden, and Chancellor James Schmidt gave kudos to the students who have chosen to become leaders in sustainability.
“Our students are proactive and want to help build a world they want to live in,” Schmidt said. “By partnering with Xcel Energy, we can continue on our journey toward a campus that leaves a zero carbon footprint.”
Xcel Energy announced at the event that a solar developer and location for the greater-La Crosse-area garden have been selected and they are evaluating the possibility of a third 1 MW solar garden in northern Wisconsin. All three projects, when completed, will make Solar*Connect Community Wisconsin’s largest community solar garden program, according to Xcel.
The solar program is being offered to business and residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently, the program is about 90% subscribed. Electricity generated at the solar garden will go onto the local power grid operated by Xcel Energy.