The Cambridge area has spoken, at least tentatively, about a utility-scale solar farm proposed for the towns of Christiana and Deerfield.
Hundreds of comments have been logged in recent months with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, regarding the 300-megawatt Koshkonong Solar Energy Center and its proposed 165-megawatt battery storage facility, for a total capacity of 465 megawatts that would spread out over 6,300 acres.
The comments have been submitted by local citizens and by organizations, and by interest groups statewide. All of the comments, and all of the documents filed so far by Chicago developer Invenergy, LLC, can be viewed on the commission’s website, psc.wi.gov
Sustaining that level of engagement will prove key as the state review process pushes forward, only moving faster and gaining complexity from here.
Last week, the commission approved nine requests to intervene in its review process, a special status that gives individuals and groups heightened access to documents and conversations.
Approved intervenors include the School District of Cambridge, the village of Cambridge and the town of Christiana, as well as several local residents who have been outspoken in their opposition. Also approved to intervene is Renew Wisconsin, a statewide advocate for renewable energy.
There’s been informal chatter, too. Local citizens have been regularly using social media to keep people talking, to question the process and to try to sort out the fact from fiction and speculation. And letters to the editor have regularly been submitted to local media.
Local towns and villages have also been talking to each other, and the Cambridge school district has been drawn into that. Invenergy has set up an office in downtown Cambridge. And both individually and in small groups, local residents have built their awareness by visiting other solar farms currently under construction, most notably the Badger Hollow solar farm in Iowa County. It’s also being developed by Invenergy.
But that was phase one.
There’s an aggressive upcoming timeline, with Invenergy hoping for Public Service Commission approval by the end of the year. That means coming months will require even more participation and vigilance both for those in opposition and those in support.
Last week, the commission set a prehearing conference for Koshkonong Solar. It’s at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4 and will be streamed live. An online meeting link and more details are at: https://apps.psc.wi.gov/ERF/ERFview/viewdoc.aspx?docid=416198.
According to a hearing notice, the purpose will be to determine who, other than those already identified, will actively participate as parties; the issues; the schedule; and any other matter that will facilitate the proceeding.
We hope the level of participation we’ve seen so far continues to the Public Service Commission’s final decision. We hope that local residents take advantage of the COVID-19-era rise in online meeting streaming, to take part virtually from anywhere.
High engagement will be the best way to ensure that all concerns and input are heard and that the commission’s decisions ultimately best serve everyone.