RACINE — By October, about 600 kilowatts of the electricity Racine residents consume could be powered by the sun.
Construction is underway for a solar array at Olsen Prairie Park, 3444 S. Memorial Drive, which was made possible through a partnership with the City of Racine and the We Energies Solar Now pilot program.
“Excited to see that SunVest (the contractor) and We Energies are making progress on what will be the largest solar installation in the City of Racine at Olsen Prairie Park,” Mayor Cory Mason posted on his Facebook page. “This will generate new revenue for the City and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Terms of the lease
According to the terms of a lease agreement approved by the City Council in May, We Energies is leasing 2.64 acres of land from the city for 30 years for approximately $2,000 per month for an estimated $26,151 per year. We Energies owns all the solar capacity and is responsible for the design, permitting, construction and upkeep of the system.
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Tyson Strankman, master electrician of SunVest Solar, the general contractor on the project, said the panels will be added to the grid once they have all been installed, wired and tested, which he anticipates will be in early October.
Once they are up and running, the contractor is set to build a fence around the units and undergo prairie restoration as stipulated in the lease agreement. Olsen Prairie Park is a former brownfield site, meaning it was previously developed, fell into disuse and was potentially contaminated by pollution. Years ago the city turned it into about 22 acres of prairie restoration.
The project was headed by Cara Pratt, the city’s sustainability and conservation coordinator. Pratt is employed by the Racine Water and Wastewater utilities and splits her time between the utilities and City Hall projects. She has been part of an initiative to measure the city’s energy consumption so that it can be reduced, and to promote solar energy.