MADISON, Wis. - Dane County executive Joe Parisi announced plans for a massive solar field at the Dane County Regional Airport in a news conference at the airport Thursday afternoon.
The 30-acre solar array would be located in an empty field northeast of the airport's runways and would generate 6 megawatts of power, making it the second-largest in the state, Parisi said.
Aside from increasing the county's use of renewable energy, Parisi, flanked by leaders of local environment groups, pitched the plan as something that would save taxpayer dollars in the long run.
"The sun shines for free and the sun shines every day, and even when there are clouds in the sky, you're still generating solar power," Parisi said.
Parisi said because the county is in the earliest stages of planning, it does not have an upfront cost estimate for the solar project yet.
Parisi, who has advocated for local action on the issue of climate change in lieu of what he sees as inaction from the state and federal governments, said he hoped the project would serve as an example for other local governments in Wisconsin.
"We hope that as we move forward with renewable energy projects, more solar projects, that more folks around the state will take notice," Parisi said.
The county will need to hire a company to evaluate the project's feasibility, which includes securing proper approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration. It will also need to solicit proposals from prospective solar developers.
Parisi said he hoped construction would start by next year.