Town Sues Utility Regulators Over Solar Farm Approval

Dane County town sues regulators over Cambridge solar plant approval

Chris Hubbuch | Wisconsin State Journal

A southeastern Dane County community is suing Wisconsin utility regulators in an effort to block what would be the state’s largest solar farm yet.

The town of Christiana is asking the courts to reverse the Public Service Commission’s approval of the Koshkonong Solar Energy Center, which would produce enough electricity to power about a third of the county’s homes.

The town argues the PSC wrongly approved a project that violates the state Constitution, lacked an adequate environmental review and was presented under false pretenses, among other deficiencies.

The 2,400-acre project west of Cambridge would unreasonably interfere with orderly land use and development plans and would adversely affect public health, as well as amenities such as “views, historic sites, geological formations, the aesthetics of land and water and recreational use,” according to a petition filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The PSC voted 2-0 in April to allow Chicago-based Invenergy to build the 465-megawatt solar-plus-storage facility, which would be the largest in the state and the first industrial-scale solar plant in Dane County.

Three utilities, including We Energies and Madison Gas and Electric, are seeking approval to purchase the project for $649 million as part of their plans to replace coal-fired power plants with carbon-free generation.

A PSC spokesperson declined to comment on the petition, citing agency policy. However, the commission addressed many of the challenges — brought up during the course of the proceedings — in a final written order issued May 5.

The town argues the commission should not have granted Invenergy a permit to operate a “merchant” wholesale plant when the company plans to turn it over to regulated utilities.

Read More: Town Sues Utility Regulators Over Solar Farm Approval

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