PSC approves MGE, WEC Energy purchase of planned Grant Co. wind farm project

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Charlie Riedel

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2021, file photo, wind turbines are silhouetted against the rising sun near Spearville, Kan. Evergy, Kansas' largest electric company expects to make its first big investments in solar energy over the next three years and increase wind generating capacity with the goal to produce no net carbon emissions as of 2045.

MADISON, Wis. — The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has granted approval for Madison Gas and Electric and Wisconsin Public Service to buy part of a 92-megawatt wind farm planned for parts of Grant County, MGE said in a statement.

The roughly 12,000-acre Red Barn Wind Farm being developed by PRC Wind and built by ALLETE Clean Energy is set to include 28 turbines in parts of the towns of Wingville and Clifton. Wisconsin Public Service, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, will own 90% of the energy and MGE will own the remaining 10%.

In a March filing with the PSC, WEC said the Red Barn project will help it toward its goal of retiring fossil fuel power plants and spending more than $2 billion on natural gas and renewable energy generation as well as storage resources.

MGE said the project will also help it fill energy needs as it shuts down legacy assets like the Columbia Energy Center coal power plant south of Portage and moves toward more clean energy for customers. That plant, co-owned by MGE, Alliant Energy and the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, is set to close by the end of 2024.

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“The Red Barn Wind Farm will help MGE to meet future energy and capacity needs cost-effectively as we continue our ongoing transition to a more sustainable energy supply. We are working every day toward net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 for all our customers,” Jeff Keebler, MGE’s Chairman, President and CEO, said in the statement. “We have said since announcing our net-zero goal, if we can go further faster through partnerships with our customers and the evolution of new technologies, we will.”

MGE said construction is set to begin this year and the project could be operational by the end of 2022.