Blue Prairie Solar ProjectHB
Location: Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin
Impact: Electrical production of 5,000 MWh/year
Beneficiaries: Blue Prairie Solar, LLC
The Blue Prairie Solar Project, developed by OneEnergy Renewables, started commercial operations late summer 2021, providing electricity to the local grid as well as additional revenue to a local farm family. The family, who own and manage Full Belly Farm, lease a 17-acre plot of their property to OneEnergy for solar development. This additional income helps support what they do on the rest of their land: raising Scottish Highland cattle, Idaho Pasture pigs, Katahdin sheep, honeybees, and more. OneEnergy planted a seed mix under the solar panels that creates both nutritional pasture for their sheep and abundant flowering resources for their bees. Farmer Wade Christianson says, “We can’t wait to see our sheep grazing underneath! We’ve always been effective and efficient. With just solar arrays you still have the grass/field to take care of. When you add sheep it becomes 100% utilized, nothing wasted!”
This project is a 2.5 MW solar photovoltaic project connected to the Jackson County electric grid. Located near Black River Falls, Wisconsin, it consists of a ground-mounted contiguous array of ~7,004 individual photovoltaic panels. Blue Prairie will displace prior contracted wholesale energy, which in this region of the Upper Midwest is majority coal-fired generation. Jackson Electric Cooperative will benefit from savings compared to its current wholesale electricity supply agreement, which will be directly passed through to its members in the community.
Blue Prairie is one of the latest projects developed for Native’s New Renewables Portfolio. The Portfolio’s purpose is to enable Renewable Energy Credit (REC) buyers to play a causal role in actualizing new renewable energy projects. On behalf of Portfolio investors, Native has committed to a 10-year renewables purchase agreement with OneEnergy Renewables. Without this type of long-term REC purchasing agreement, this project would not be economically feasible.
Impacts & Benefits
The project expects to produce and add over 5,000 MWh/year of clean, solar energy. OneEnergy has worked with the farm to select a seed mix that will provide nutritious forage to their sheep while also benefitting pollinators.
OneEnergy is working with Jackson Electric Cooperative to donate solar panels to create demonstration projects at two local schools, providing savings to the schools and educational opportunities to the students. To promote place-based educational opportunities around solar energy, students will have access to energy production data from the Strobus project as well as their school’s solar panels, and OneEnergy will facilitate student trips to the solar facility.
Blue Prairie Solar, LLC is the project owner and operator. OneEnergy Renewables developed the project.