Wisconsin is famous for its cheese – not for solar energy. But a rural, member-owned electric cooperative is taking steps to change that.

Aerial photo of a Dairyland Power Cooperative solar facility (over 500 kW) located adjacent to the headquarters of Dairyland member cooperative Vernon Electric in Westby.

Dairyland Power Cooperative recently commissioned 12 new solar facilities in the state. The projects will be online by the end of the year and they’ll produce about 16 megawatts of energy. Craig Harmes, manager of business development, explains what that means in terms of generated power.

Harmes: “That would probably mean something in the neighborhood of 2,500 to 3,000 homes total on an annual basis.”

Powering a few thousand homes sounds like a drop in the bucket when you think about the millions of electricity consumers in the state. But these 12 projects are increasing Wisconsin’s solar capacity by 40 percent.

Craig Harmes

That’s a big increase in a state where the public service commission actually took contrary steps that dramatically slowed new renewable energy projects.

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But since Dairyland is a member-owned nonprofit that’s not regulated by the state, it’s freer to invest in clean energy. Harmes says that Dairyland, a rural cooperative, was responding to requests from its members. So the new solar projects demonstrate that there is demand for clean energy in Wisconsin.

Reporting credit: Peter Bresnan/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of Dairyland Power Cooperative.

More Resources
Dairyland Power Cooperative website

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...