We Energies, WPS planning $446 million solar and battery project in southern Wisconsin

Last updated on March 17th, 2021 at 01:00 pm

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group, are planning a 325-megawatt solar and battery storage project in Walworth and Rock counties, the second development of this kind announced this year.

The $446 million Darien Solar Energy Center would have 250 MW of solar generation capacity and another 75 MW of battery storage capacity. It would be located north of I-43 and on the east and west sides of Highway 14.

Chicago-based Invenergy is already seeking approvals for the solar portion of the project from the Public Service Commission. If approved, the project would begin construction later this year and go into service by the end of 2023.

The project area covers nearly 7,700 acres with 4,200 acres under contract for lease or purchase by Invenergy.

Invenergy is also developing the Paris Solar-Battery Park in Kenosha County. On that project, which would have 200 MW of solar and 110 MW of battery storage, We Energies and WPS are combining to buy a 90% stake and Madison Gas and Electric is buying the remaining 10%. The utilities announced those plans in February. 

A similar ownership structure would be used for this project with the two WEC Energy Utilities owning 90% of the park and Madison Gas and Electric owning 10%.

Invenergy officials told the PSC they had several areas within the state for potential solar projects and identified southern Wisconsin because of its latitude and favorable weather patterns. The Walworth and Rock county areas were identified for a number of reasons, including available land, environmental compatibility, community and landowner support and other factors.

“For the second time this year, we are demonstrating our commitment to a clean energy future with a major investment in renewable energy,” said Tom Metcalfe, president of We Energies and WPS. “Not only will these projects maintain reliability and deliver significant savings, building these facilities in Wisconsin will create green jobs and help drive the state’s economy.”

The Paris and Darien projects represent significant steps in WEC Energy Group’s plan to invest $2 billion in new solar, wind and battery storage projects for its utilities by 2025.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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