Cooperation among cooperatives is one of Oakdale Electric Cooperative’s (OEC) guiding principles. Electric cooperatives are known for working together in a variety of ways, most importantly during major storm restoration. A different way we are following this principle in 2023 is by investing in solar in our service areas.
Over the last two years, OEC has been working with eight other Wisconsin electric cooperatives to get the best volume pricing on solar energy for our members. This has allowed us to form a partnership with OneEnergy Renewables of Madison to develop and construct 12 utility-scale solar arrays across Wisconsin. Over the next two years, the partnership will add 22 megawatts (MW) of new solar generation. The arrays will generate enough electricity to power 4,000 homes for our co-op members.
OEC currently has one existing solar garden (SunnyOak Community Solar Garden, pictured below) which is in Necedah township. This garden began operating in 2017 and has 792 panels. It is shared with Dairyland Power Cooperative’s 1.5 MW solar array. Members can purchase subscriptions to this garden to help offset their own electricity usage. We still have subscriptions available, so if you are interested, please contact our office for more information.
Two of the 12 new arrays being constructed will be on our system. Together they will generate 4.5 MW of solar energy. One will be near Mauston and the other will be near New Lisbon. Combined with the output from SunnyOak, the gardens will be able to power approximately 856 homes annually. These projects not only add more clean energy to our grid, but they also relieve potential overloading of our substation equipment and help to offset power market costs.
The first of the new arrays will be constructed in the Mauston Township, about 25 miles southeast of our office in Oakdale. The projected 18-acre site will have 6,708 panels that operate on a tracking system to follow the path of the sun for maximum power generation. The 3.0 MW array will generate about 6,266,000 kWh of electricity annually. This Lemonweir Solar site will become the largest utility-scale solar project in Oakdale Electric’s service area.
The second array will be built in the New Lisbon Township. Webster Creek Solar is projected to be our second largest utility-scale project. The 10-acre site will hold 3,302 panels to generate 1.5 MW or 2,831,202 kWh annually. This site will also use tracking technology to follow the sun for maximum potential generation. We had originally hoped to have both projects built last summer; however, due to supply-chain issues, the projects had to be delayed to 2023. Construction on both sites will be starting soon and is estimated to be completed by the end of this summer. OEC supports a balanced transition to a lower carbon future and these new sites will aid in that adaptation.
I encourage you to follow our social media sites for more information as construction continues.