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Utilities apply to buy Cambridge-area solar farm

The utility companies ask that if the sale goes through, the certificate of public convenience and necessity be transferred to them

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Three utility companies say they’re interested in buying a proposed solar farm west of Cambridge.

In a joint April 30 filing with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO), Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) and Madison Gas and Electric Company (MGE) said they’d like to buy the proposed Koshkonong Solar Energy Center that a Chicago renewable energy developer is seeking state approval to build.

The three utilities said in the filing that they’d like to acquire the proposed solar farm in the towns of Christiana and Deerfield and construct what they envision would be a 300 megawatt solar project and 165 megawatt battery storage facility, for a total capacity of 465 megwatts.

Wisconsin Electric Power Company would have a 75 percent ownership stake, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation 15 percent and Madison Gas and Electric Company 10 percent.

WEC Energy Group (“WEC”), the parent company of WEPCO and WPSC, recently announced its plan to lower its carbon emissions by 70% between 2005 and 2030 and for its generation fleet to be net carbon zero by 2050, according to the filing. Based on preliminary data for 2020, WEPCO and WPSC have already reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 50% below 2005 levels, the filing said.

“The Koshkonong project represents another concrete example of WEC’s commitment to build a bright, sustainable future for its customers. The project will help maintain world-class reliability, deliver significant savings to customers and help achieve the company’s carbon reduction goals,” the filing said.

In an April 15 filing with the Public Service Commission, for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, Delaware-based Koshkonong Solar Energy Center, LLC, said it would initially own and operate the 300-megawatt solar farm that is proposed to spread over about 6,300 acres in the towns of Deerfield and Christiana.

Koshkonong Solar Energy Center is a wholly owned subsidiary of Invenergy Solar Development North America, LLC, and an affiliate of Invenergy, LLC, of Chicago, that filing said.

The Public Service Commission is expected to take 6-9 months to approve that certificate of public convenience and necessity application.

In the subsequent April 30 filing, the utility companies ask that if the sale goes through, the certificate of public convenience and necessity be transferred to them.

The April 30 filing also says the utilities would expect to pay Invenergy about $649 million to acquire Koshkonong Solar, about $412 million for the solar facilities and about $237 million for the battery storage. The purchase cost includes the cost to connect to transmission lines, the filing says.

Via an agreement with the utility companies, Invenergy would staff and operate the facilities, the filing also says.

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