Northern Prairie Solar, LLC (“Northern Prairie Solar”) is proposing the development of a 101.2-megawatt (MW) solar energy facility located in the Town of Cylon, St Croix County, Wisconsin. The proposed facility would be located on approximately 970 acres of privately-owned land and will connect to the existing Pine Lake to Apple River 161kV transmission line which runs north-south through the project area.
The project will provide significant economic investment to the community, substantial Shared Revenue Utility payments for the County and Town, and emission-free renewable energy with a minimal impact on communities and local infrastructure. Northern Prairie Solar requires approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and is expected to operate for 30+ years.
The solar facility will be developed, owned, and operated by Northern Prairie Solar and the power will be provided to the regional bulk power transmission system to help meet demand for emission-free renewable energy in Wisconsin. If approved, project construction is anticipated to begin the second half of 2023, bringing an influx of new construction jobs to the community. Northern Prairie Solar plans to begin operating by the fourth quarter of 2024, pending necessary approvals.
As a dedicated member of the community, Northern Prairie Solar will work hard to earn the trust of our neighbors. Our involvement will go well beyond job creation, economic investment, and providing clean, renewable energy. We strive to build lasting partnerships with civic leaders, property owner and community organizations. Throughout the life of every project, we are involved with we pride ourselves on being fully transparent in our communication and highly responsive to public feedback.
Northern Prairie Solar, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC, a leading renewable energy producer dedicated to sustainably powering the future. Leeward currently owns and operates 22 renewable energy facilities across nine states, totaling more than 2,000 MW of installed capacity.
Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS infrastructure, a preeminent global infrastructure investment arm of OMERs, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans with over C$105 billion in net assets (as of December 31, 2020)
Responsible development is an ethos that runs deep at Leeward Energy and our subsidiary companies. We develop, own, and operate renewable generation assets for the long term, and are committed to leaving a positive impact on the communities where we operate. We achieve this by prioritizing our values of community partnership, sustainability, and safety. Recent community partnerships Leeward has engaged in include sponsorship of Cops Shop with Kids in Ohio, support for local school lunches in North Carolina, and sponsorship of a city festival in DeKalb, Illinois.
CLICK HERE for more information about Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC.
Northern Prairie Solar Project Fact Sheet Download Here
Solar frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What will the solar facility look like?
Northern Prairie Solar will primarily consist of rows of photovoltaic electric generating modules mounted to steel frames installed on driven steel posts with inverters spaced throughout the site. The entire perimeter of the project site will be fenced for security and safety.
Will the solar facility reduce my property value?
Well-developed solar projects will not negatively impact property values. A solar energy facility such as Northern Prairie is a low-intensity, passive use of land. Once constructed, solar projects do not possess the negative qualities that could theoretically impact property values such as hazardous materials, odor, noise, and excess traffic. Enhanced setbacks and professional landscaping will also be used to mitigate visual impact.
Is this project safe for the community and environment?
Yes. Solar power generation produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases and has a positive, indirect effect by reducing the use of other energy sources. When it’s operational, Northern Prairie can produce enough energy to power approximately 35,000 average Wisconsin homes without contributing carbon emissions. The solar panel materials are enclosed, and don’t mix with water or vaporize into the air, meaning there is no threat of chemicals releasing into the environment during normal use. In addition, the panels are manufactured to endure all weather conditions, and are sealed shut to further ensure public safety.
What is the impact on farmland?
Utility scale solar facilities such as Northern Prairie Solar are generally located on agricultural land, shifting farms from growing crops to generating clean energy. It’s not such a far reach as many farmers today are already in the energy production business. About 37% of the corn grown in Wisconsin is used for ethanol, a common biofuel. In addition to supporting farmer’s land-use rights, solar farms put significant dollars into communities and solar-hosting farmers have a reliable source of revenue for years to come.
Will the solar facility produce glare or noise?
Solar panel technology has advanced significantly in recent years. The solar panels will be manufactured with tempered glass and anti-reflective coatings, minimizing glare. The moving mechanical parts of a solar facility produce minimal noise and are typically inaudible beyond the property boundaries based on the setbacks included in the facility’s design.
How long will the solar facility be operational?
The average life of a solar facility is approximately 30-40 years, but with proper maintenance, it can last longer.
Who will maintain the property and vegetation?
Northern Prairie Solar will be responsible for maintaining the solar facility property. We work diligently with consultants and local stakeholders to ensure proper ground cover, erosion and sediment control, and stormwater management. We also implement vegetation management plans and best management practices to promote the establishment of native vegetation and the proper mitigation of overgrowth and invasive plant species.
What happens at the end of the project’s life?
At the end of the life of the project, Northern Prairie Solar will be responsible for removing equipment and restoring the site to its original use. As part of the permitting review process, Northern Prairie Solar will submit a decommissioning plan to ensure that ample consideration and protections will be provided.
How will development of the solar facility affect my community?
Construction will bring new employment opportunities, a large direct investment in the community, and local business generated from the purchase of food, fuel, accommodations, and other local supplies. During the construction period there will be a relatively short-term increase in traffic volume and noise, typical of similar projects.
Once the project is operational, daily traffic to and from the site will be minimal. Throughout its life, the project will not burden county services and utilities; however, it will contribute substantial revenue to local tax authorities and provide clean energy in Wisconsin.
If you have additional questions about Northern Prairie Solar, please fill out the form below or contact Kevin Thornton, Northern Prairie Solar Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org.