Dairyland Power Cooperative has finalized agreements for three additional utility-scale solar generation projects, bringing Dairyland’s total number of solar installations under contract to 18.
The three new projects will increase the total solar generation from 20.5 megawatts (MW) to 25 MW in the Dairyland cooperative system. Once the three new solar energy facilities are online, the 18 sites will together be able to produce enough renewable energy to power nearly 4,000 homes.
The power purchase agreements for the three new projects are with SoCore Energy (Chicago, Ill.). Of the previously announced solar sites, 14 of 15 are with SoCore Energy and one agreement is with EDF Renewables (White River Junction, Vt.). The developers install, own, operate and maintain the facilities.
Dairyland’s existing 15 solar energy sites are located in Wisconsin and Iowa. The new solar sites will be located in three states (Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota) within Dairyland’s service territory. Construction on the new sites will begin later this year.
Locations, scale and local electric cooperative of the three new sites:
- Thomson, Ill., 1.5 MW (Jo-Carroll Energy Cooperative)
- Decorah, Iowa, 1.5 MW (MiEnergy Cooperative)
- Albert Lea, Minn., 1.5 MW (Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative)
The solar installations are tracking systems, which follow the path of the sun to increase energy production. As a cooperative initiative, the 18 solar facilities are located in the service areas of Dairyland’s member electric cooperatives. The advantages of multiple projects in separate locations include: diversified weather, distributed grid infrastructure impacts and locally-based renewable energy.
Solar sites double as Pollinator Gardens
All the solar generation sites will also provide beneficial bee and butterfly habitat. The solar developers are using native seed mixes of grasses and flowering forbs to create certified pollinator gardens at each solar site. In addition to helping sustain and grow bee and butterfly populations, the pollinator gardens will help reduce storm water runoff, increasing site protection from erosion.