Georgetown Solar construction begins, energy to benefit local members of Polk-Burnett Electric Co-op

Construction started in May 2023 on Georgetown Solar, a 15-acre solar array in Georgetown Township at 1867 100th Street, County Road I, Balsam Lake. Solar energy will feed into the electric distribution system to benefit members of Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative.

Polk-Burnett is partnering with Seattle-based OneEnergy Renewables to develop Georgetown Solar. The 2 MW solar array will generate about 4,500,000 kWh of electricity annually, enough to power 375 homes.

Georgetown Solar will be built, owned and operated by OneEnergy Renewables, a Wisconsin solar energy company that offers expertise in site development, engineering, equipment purchasing, construction and operations. The Madison-based team has developed 15 projects across Wisconsin, and another 11 in adjacent states.

Polk-Burnett will purchase solar energy output from the array at a fixed rate for 25 years. The timing of Georgetown Solar construction was coordinated with other co-op solar projects across Wisconsin to get a better price and return on investment for members.

“The project provides both operational and financial benefits by generating some of our own power locally,” said Polk-Burnett General Manager Steve Stroshane. “Georgetown Solar not only adds more clean energy to the grid, but it will also relieve overloading on substation equipment and help offset power market costs.”

Georgetown Solar is located next to the Bunyan Substation, at the intersection of Cty Rd I and H in the Town of Georgetown, Polk County. This site was selected to help meet high summer demand at the Bunyan Substation. The array has 4,472 panels that operate on a tracking system to follow the path of the sun for maximum power generation.

The ground under the array will be restored with pasture, prairie grasses and wildflowers, providing habitat for pollinators and healthy root systems to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain.

“Co-op solar arrays are dual-purpose spaces that provide energy for members, as well as acres of important ecosystems,” said Stroshane.

“Polk-Burnett supports a balanced, measured strategy to diversify energy generation and carbon reduction. We must ensure a reliable and affordable flow of electricity. Our mission is to provide safe, reliable electricity at a competitive cost,” said Stroshane. “This project will help us become less reliant on volatile energy markets during peak summer days and strengthen local grid reliability.”

“We’re excited to break ground on Georgetown Solar. We plan to dedicate the array and begin generating power by fall 2023. We will keep our members informed of our progress,” added Stroshane.

Georgetown Solar is the second utility scale solar array in Polk-Burnett’s service territory. The first, SunTuria Solar, was dedicated in 2017 behind the co-op office in Centuria. The 1.25 MW array generates power for about 200 homes. It is owned and operated by ENGIE North American, and the co-op purchases the solar energy output. School and community groups are invited for tours