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In southwestern Wisconsin lies Iowa County, best known for its wide-open land and agriculture.

Pieces of farmland are being chosen to participate in one of the country’s largest solar panel farms, and at least 25 landowners have agreed to lease all or part of their property for the cause.

Over the 25 year contract, this will provide $49 million in landowner payments and $30 million in local taxes – a huge investment in the community.

The plan is to set 1.1 million solar panels on 3500 acres, producing a new “cash crop” for the local farmers. Named the Badger Hollow Solar Farm, it is planning to produce 300 megawatts annually, and will be replacing 370,000 tons of carbon. This supply of electricity will power the equivalent of 77,100 houses, and will be used for local and statewide residential homes and companies.

badger hollow solar project

Annual Production: 300 megawatts

Annual Carbon Saved: 370,000 tons

 Annual Houses Powered: 77,100

Wisconsin is still fairly coal-dependent, so adding this boost of clean power while also supporting the agricultural economy seems like a step in the right direction.

The company responsible for installation is offering landowners a solar lease payment, which they say is more lucrative and less risky than farming. The construction, if approved, will begin in 2019 and power production will begin in 2020. In the meantime, Iowa County will have to approve a conditional use permit. As well, the company must apply to the WI Public Service Commission, where members will decide if the project is needed and in the best interest of the public.

Watch the news story here