Overview: Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WP&L), filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) for a Certificate of Authority (CA) to construct five solar energy generation facilities, and an application for approval of an affiliated interest agreement for one solar energy generation facility seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Commission. In total, WP&L is seeking authority to acquire, construct, own, and operate 414 Megawatts (MW) of new solar energy generation facilities. This is the second phase of a larger goal WP&L has to replace some of its coal-fired generation with utility scale solar facilites. The CPCN project is Springfield Solar, in Dodge County (Docket 9807-CE-100). The five sub-100 MW solar projects being reviewed by the Commission in this docket are located in Albany (Green County), Beaver Dam (Dodge County), Cassville (Grant County), Paddock (Rock County), and Wautoma (Waushara County).
Applicant stated need: WP&L states in the application that it conducted an analysis that shows there would be benefits to its customers if it increased its renewable energy generation and retired certain of its coal-fired generation facilities. The application states that these projects are part of a larger program that would save customers money over the next 35 years compared to maintaining its current generation fleet. WP&L requested a CA in a previous docket, 6680-CE-182, to acquire, construct, own, and operate 675 MW of solar energy generation facilities, and the Commission granted that CA in April, 2021. This project is the second phase of WP&L's overall goal of replacing coal-fired generation facilities with solar energy generation facilities.
Estimated cost: WP&L states that the estimated cost to acquire, construct, and place in operation the six proposed solar projects in this docket is approximately $535 million (calculated without AFUDC or transmission costs), which includes an estimated $516 million in construction costs and an estimated $19 million in land purchase costs. WP&L intends to finance approximately 35 to 45 percent of the estimated construction costs (excluding land acquisition costs) with capital from a tax equity partner. As a result, WP&L requests authorization to include in rate base up to $355 million, plus AFUDC, subject to Commission review and audit in a future rate proceeding.
Project Location: The five sub-100 MW solar projects being reviewed by the Commission in this docket are located in Albany (Green County), Beaver Dam (Dodge County), Cassville (Grant County), Paddock (Rock County), and Wautoma (Waushara County). The CPCN project is Springfield Solar, in Dodge County (Docket 9807-CE-100). See maps below.
Proposed schedule: For each of the sub-100 MW solar facilities, WP&L stated that construction is anticipated to start in the second quarter of 2022. WP&L states that a site-specific construction specification and schedule would be developed during the final engineering process for each of the solar facilities. The final construction schedule would be determined by the timing of regulatory approvals. Generally, construction is expected to take between 12 and 18 months for each of the solar facilities. The project schedules provided anticipate that the sub-100 MW facilities would go into operation in the fourth quarter of 2023. Additional work on sites may be necessary after the final construction and placement into operation, if necessary, to stabilize soils and ground vegetation and allow for closure of storm water and erosion control permits.
Key Application Documents and Case Contacts
Case Contacts and Additional Information
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Commission and DNR staff completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed project that evaluated impacts of the five solar projects less than 100 Megawatts in size. It is currently available upon request and will be posted to the docket for this project on or after December 9, 2021. The Commission opens this docket by its authority under Wis. Stat. ch. 196. This is a Class 1 proceeding as defined in Wis. Stat. § 227.01(3)(a). This docket seeks: A Certificate of Authority to own, operate, and construct the Solar Projects at the cost, and with the accounting measures, described in this Application under Wis. Stat. § 196.49. Approval under Wis. Stat. §§ 196.52 and 196.795(5)(s) for WPL to transfer an indirect ownership stake in the Solar Projects to a tax equity partner. Approval under Wis. Stat. §§ 196.52 and 196.795(5)(r) for WPL to enter into affiliated interest agreements related to the ownership and operation of the Solar Projects through a tax equity partnership.
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