MILWAUKEE — New data show that the Wisconsin solar industry saw its most active year of development as it was boosted by a major investment in solar by Dairyland Power Cooperative, other utilities and Target Stores Inc., as well as projects around the state.
Construction started last year on projects across Wisconsin exceeding 30 megawatts. The new projects will be able to power about 5,000 homes once they're fully running, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2jqPwZa) reported.
That's nearly five times as much development as what occurred in 2015 as businesses, homeowners and utilities responded to decreasing solar prices.
"Wisconsin solar energy saw its best year ever in 2016, with the projects installed and under construction more than doubling the state's total production," said Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a clean energy advocacy group based in Madison. "But we can't stop here, because our neighboring states are growing even faster than us."
Research group Solar Power Rocks gave Wisconsin a "C'' grade and ranked Wisconsin 20th in the country in an evaluation released this month of how solar-friendly the states are, based on their policies.
Dairyland Power Cooperative's multi-site project that's a series of solar fields across western Wisconsin was among the biggest solar projects highlighted at a renewable energy policy summit in Madison on Thursday.
Chief executive Barbara Nick, a keynote speaker at the policy summit, said that when Dairyland put out a request for proposals last year for up to 25 megawatts of solar, the response was strong and competitive.
"It's a real story of Dairyland doing what the communities want," she said.