Solar Projects To Benefit Farmers

New community solar legislation would expand renewable energy access, according to RENEW Wisconsin.

The bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, and Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, would enable more development of community solar projects in the state. The initiative aims to expand customer choice, help utility customers save money on energy bills and keep energy dollars in Wisconsin.

Community solar projects allow businesses, farms, nonprofits, schools and families to access the benefits of affordable solar power without hosting a solar array or making large, up-front payments to install their own solar systems.

RENEW references the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that at least 49 percent of households and 48 percent of businesses lack adequate solar rooftops. Community solar participants subscribe to a portion of a locally built solar farm and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced.

According to RENEW, 21 states, including Minnesota and Illinois, have already enacted policies that expand the community solar market. The organization argues a few Wisconsin utilities have offered community solar programs, but without a statewide policy, many utility customers here lack access to a solar service.

“This legislation is an opportunity to provide greater access to affordable, emission-free electricity for all Wisconsinites,” RENEW Executive Director Heather Allen says. “These projects will benefit residential and commercial subscribers, as well as the farmers who will receive a reliable income from the land they choose to lease for 20 or more years.”