Community Solar

Community solar is growing very quickly in Wisconsin, thanks to pioneering electric providers that see the value in connecting to the power of the sun.

What is it?

Community solar programs allow individuals to sponsor one or more solar panels amongst a much larger solar array. Vernon Electric Cooperative offered the first such program in Wisconsin in 2014, with 1,000 panels in a 305 kW project, which sold out in under a month!

Many customers who are interested in choosing renewable energy cannot install solar on their home or business due to roofs that face the wrong direction, too much shade, or other barriers. Community solar programs offer utility customers the option to virtually power their home or business with solar energy when they otherwise wouldn't be able to at a lower cost.

Who's Doing It?

Rural electric cooperatives in western Wisconsin took the lead in developing community solar gardens for their customers, and interest has now spread to municipals and investor-owned utilities. See the table below with current projects, both operational and in the works, as of June 2016.

Utility-Sponsored Community Solar Projects in Wisconsin
(As of February 2017)
Electric Provider Location Project Size
(in kWAC**)
Barron Electric Cooperative Chetek 80 2014 - Constructed & Fully Subscribed
Bayfield Electric Cooperative Iron River 320 2016 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions (90% Full)
Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative New Auburn 250* 2017 - Cooperative Solar Project; Construction Planned for 2017
Clark Electric Cooperative Greenwood 40 2015 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions
Dunn Energy Cooperative Menomonie 100* 2017 - Placed in Service
Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Fall River 670 2015 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions
Madison Gas & Electric
Middleton 500 2017 - Placed in Service
New Richmond
New Richmond 250 2015 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions
Oakdale Electric Cooperative Necedah 200* 2017 - Placed in Service
Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative Centuria 250* 2017 - Construction Planned for 2017
Richland Electric
Viola 100* 2016 - Placed in Service
River Falls
River Falls 250 2015 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions
Riverland Energy Cooperative Arcadia 150* 2017 - Placed in Service
Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative Eastman 250* 2017 - Placed in Service
Spooner Municipal Utilities Spooner 400* 2017 - Construction Planned for 2017.
St. Croix Electric Cooperative Hammond 80 (2014)
144* (2017)
Phase 1 operational in 2014, 144 kW expansion placed in service in 2017
Taylor Electric Cooperative Medford 100 2015 - Constructed & Accepting Subscriptions
Vernon Electric Cooperative Westby 235 (2014)
264* (2017)
Phase 1 operational in 2014, 264 kW expansion placed in service in 2017
Xcel Energy
La Crosse,
Eau Claire
2,000* 2016 - Construction Underway & Accepting Subscriptions
Total 2,525 in Operation
4,088* Planned
*Planned Capacity
**kWAC means kilowatts of solar measured as AC (alternating current) capacity

Where is it happening?

See the map below of community solar projects in Wisconsin!


Want to learn more about community solar? Check out the resources below!

  • Joe McDonald, CEO of Vernon Electric Cooperative, was a keynote speaker at our 2015 Policy Summit. View his presentation or video of his speech to hear more about Vernon Electric's Community Solar Garden.
  • Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) Utility Community Solar Handbook
  • U.S. Department of Energy A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-Profit Project Development