KENOSHA COUNTY — Paris Town Chairman John Holloway says he is confident assurances reached with Invenergy, the company planning to construct a 200-megawatt solar farm in the town along Highway KR, will carry over when the operation is sold to a utility company.
“Invenergy had made the town aware early in the process that they would most likely seek a buyer for the project and only function as the developer,” Holloway said. “The town made sure that any agreements with Paris Solar were transferable and enforceable on buyers.”
Holloway said he has spoken with representatives from WEC Energy Group, the parent company of We Energies that has filed a joint application with Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to purchase Paris Solar-Battery Park for roughly $426 million.
“They are fully aware of the MOU (memorandum of understanding) that was negotiated and are fully prepared to follow it,” Holloway said. “The town will continue to work with Invenergy during the construction phase and we are confident about that relationship.”
A Paris Solar project update is on the Town Board agenda for discussion at its meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.
The solar farm is planned for a site 1.5 miles west of I-94, on parcels bordering Highway KR on the north, Highway 45 on the west and partly adjacent to Highway 142 (Burlington Road) on the south.
Invenergy secured contracts for more than 2,500 acres of land. However, the solar arrays would only be located on about 1,400 acres, according to original filings. Up to 750,000 solar panels could be installed in arrays mounted between 7 and 15 feet off the ground. The arrays tilt to track the sun’s daylight path.
Lost property tax plan
The 59-page MOU includes: Road and drainage system protections; a lost property tax revenue program for taxing bodies that, unlike the town, will not receive utility aid payments when the property is removed from the tax roll; and a decommissioning plan.
The lost revenue program will calculate the amount of lost revenue based on local tax rates for the land at the time the project is placed in service. Payment amounts for each taxing authority will be increased annually by 2%. The company will execute the lost revenue program “only to the extent the amount promised is recoverable” through utility rates.
Per the decommissioning plan, removal of all project components at the company’s expense to a depth of 4 feet and restoration of the land to a condition reasonably similar to pre-existing conditions, including de-compacting areas where project access roads were installed and any other areas of substantial soil compaction.
WEC and MGE filed the joint application in early February as part of their plans to replace coal-fired power and expand the battery system approved by the Public Service Commission.
The solar park, as approved by the PSC, is expected to produce enough electricity to supply about 60,000 homes. The utility companies will seek to expand the battery system to allow the plant to provide power even when the sun is not shining.
WEC subsidiaries We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. would own 90 percent of the project, and MGE would own the other 10 percent.
The purchase requires approval from the state Public Service Commission.
Invenergy’s PSC approval allows for a 50-megawatt battery-storage system, which will be the largest in the State of Wisconsin.
The 11-megawatt battery-storage system WEC and MGE will seek approval for would be among the largest in the nation.
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