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November/December 2017 Issue

Also in this issue: New Statute Governing Conditional Use Permits, Variances, and Substandard Lots     |     Limitations on Collecting Attorney Fees for Prosecution of Ordinance Violation     |     Court Rules that Fence Law Applies to Cities and Villages

Upper Midwest Municipals Move Forward with Major New Solar Project

Citing long term energy savings and immediate term capacity value, members of the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (“UMMEG”) have finalized and approved purchase agreements to develop up to 25 MW of solar power in partnership with Organic Valley and OneEnergy Renewables.  The deal would result in the installation of local solar generation facilities ranging from between 500 kW and 5 MW in nameplate capacity in UMMEG member communities located in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. 

UMMEG is a Wisconsin municipal electric company with sixteen members, all of which are wholesale customers of Dairyland Power Cooperative, Inc.  UMMEG’s other power supply projects include the Rugby wind project and the Cashton Greens Wind Facility, which was also developed in partnership with an energy cooperative led by Organic Valley.  Organic Valley has headquarters  located in two UMMEG member communities (LaFarge and Cashton), with member cooperative farms located in numerous other UMMEG member communities.   

The new solar venture is known as the “Butter Solar” project.  When completed in mid-2019, it will be one of the largest solar projects in the region.  Thirteen UMMEG members are participating in the project; ten will have solar installations interconnected behind the meter.

The project represents the culmination of a unique public private partnership in which UMMEG and its member communities purchase solar output from the solar facilities developed by OneEnergy and its partners, while Organic Valley purchases the renewable attributes, which has the effect of lowering the overall cost of the solar output.  UMMEG and its members achieve power supply cost savings and Organic Valley obtains a long term supply of renewable energy credits that enable it to meet the company’s long-term goals of reducing its carbon footprint.  By aggregating equipment purchases for the UMMEG project participants, OneEnergy lowers the cost of procurement and allows for optimum solar production efficiency from the various installations. 

The Butter Solar project is the latest in a series of large scale solar generation projects that have been announced in Wisconsin and neighboring states.  Earlier this year, WPPI Energy announced a 100 MW solar project being developed in partnership with NextEra Energy at the Point Beach nuclear power plant site near Two Rivers.  WE Energy has announced a commitment to build up to 350 MW of solar generation by 2020.  And in the first ten months of 2017, solar capacity in Minnesota increased by more than 350 MW, largely driven by new community solar gardens being constructed by Xcel Energy.

— Richard A. Heinemann

This newsletter is published and distributed for informational pur- poses only. It does not offer legal advice with respect to particular situations, and does not purport to be a complete treatment of the legal issues surrounding any topic. Because your situation may differ from those described in this Newsletter, you should not rely solely on this information in making legal decisions.

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