Company looks to bring solar array field to Wood County
By City Times staff
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Savion, a Kansas-based solar project development company, is working to bring a large solar field to southern Wood County.
The company gave a presentation in Saratoga on Sept. 25 to provide information on the 150MW solar project that has been in development since 2018.
“The footprint for the actual solar array itself will be 1,200 acres, but the purchased land that they have bought for the building of the array is 1,650 acres,” said Wood County Board Chair Doug Machon. “So, it’s kind of like an area within an area. There would be a buffer – a tree buffer around – I think it is safe to say about 90 percent of the area. So, they are working very hard to minimize the impact on it. In particular, the visual impact; so, there is not going to be a real visual impact in this development.
“There is a small window where the tornado went through that cleared the trees. If you look at the whole map, there is not a house within probably a mile of that, or a road within a mile of that. So, the visual impact of the solar array is very, very minimal.”
The solar field would provide enough solar energy to power 40,000 homes, and was elected for the area due to its proximity to the 138kV transmission line, existing visual screening, and lack of environmental issues.
“The actual construction time would probably be around nine months,” Machon explained. “It would create around 300, hopefully locally-sourced, construction jobs in that building phase. So there is that fiscal part of it for the county and the township as well.”
Construction would be completed in 2022-23. Once in operation, the plant would have two to five employees.
The photovoltaic panels that are installed would convert sunlight to electricity; an inverter converts the DC electricity to AC; and the electricity is distributed on the electrical grid.
Savion is just the developer on the project and ownership will most likely fall to a utility.
“The window of operation for this thing is going to be about 35 years,” Machon said. “That doesn’t mean that it is going to be tore down in 35 years, but the technology of the panels that they are using have a lifespan of about 35 years productivity.”
Machon added that the development would have a sizeable impact on the county.
“Immediate impact to the county is about $350,000 a year – that’s not a rock-solid figure. I think they are a little light on it myself,” Mahon added. “It’s worth about $250,000 annually to the township.
“That’s money that would come to the county and the township in lieu of property taxes. That would come because this is a utility-scale array. They are licensed through the state. They pay a fee to the state. From that fee, the state gives back to the local municipalities a certain amount of money determined by the production of electricity.”
This comes to an estimated value of $21 million to local municipalities over the life of the project.