Joe Parisi

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi

In early 2023, for the first time ever, all of the electricity used in Dane County government facilities - from the Alliant Energy Center and the Dane County Regional Airport to county parks and the Henry Vilas Zoo - will come from clean solar and wind power.

Dane County will be the first county in Wisconsin to power all of its facilities with 100% renewable electricity.

Dane County will reach the 100% renewable electricity milestone early next year when the Yahara Solar project begins operation. In June, I joined Alliant Energy and SunVest Solar executives to kick off the construction of a 90-acre solar project on county-owned land in the Town of Cottage Grove.

I’m proud that our county is the first in the state and just a handful in the nation to achieve this renewable energy accomplishment that combats climate change and creates local clean energy jobs.

Once the solar project begins operation early next year, the 17-megawatt (MW) project site will be home to over 33,000 solar panels and produce more than 31,000 MW-hours of renewable electricity per year - enough to power 3,000 Dane County homes.

The renewable electricity generated from this new project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equivalent to the emissions produced by over 3,800 cars or the burning of 20 million pounds of coal per year.

The Yahara Solar Project is Dane County government’s largest renewable energy project, nearly double the size of the solar installation at the Dane County Regional Airport - a 9-megawatt project that began operation in December 2020. Currently, the Dane County/MGE airport solar project provides 40% of the electricity needed to power county buildings.

The partnership with MGE on the airport solar project is a great example of win-win clean energy solutions. Not only is the project reducing county operating costs by $100,000, but it also created local job opportunities during the pandemic. Clean energy efforts like this one benefit our environment, the local economy, and Dane County taxpayers.

Alliant Energy selected SunVest Solar headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin to build, operate, and initially own the project. SunVest Solar has been the #1 solar developer in Wisconsin since 2015. The solar project will create around 70 jobs during peak construction. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, there were nearly 3,000 people employed in the solar industry in Wisconsin in 2020.

In addition to the two solar arrays built in partnership with local utilities, Dane County has rooftop solar arrays at 16 county facilities. Visit the county website for an interactive “Clean Energy” map showcasing all of Dane County’s existing projects.

I’m proud of our accomplishments, yet this is no time to rest on our laurels. Now that we have achieved 100% renewable electricity, our next goal will be carbon neutral facilities and fleets by 2030.

In the last decade, Dane County has invested millions of dollars in energy efficiency efforts in our facilities. We have also added more than 100 vehicles using clean renewable natural gas to our fleet, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel costs. We will reach our new carbon neutrality goal by continuing these innovative efforts.

And we will continue to lead on clean energy solutions because that’s who we are in Dane County.

Joe Parisi is the Dane County Executive.

Recommended for you