Georgetown Solar, energy to benefit local members of Polk-Burnett Electric Co-op
Georgetown Solar is a 15-acre solar array outside Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. Construction began in May 2023, and the array began generating power in December 2023. Solar energy feeds into the electric distribution system to benefit members of Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative.
Polk-Burnett partnered with Seattle-based OneEnergy Renewables to develop Georgetown Solar. The 2 MW solar array generates about 4,500,000 kWh of electricity annually, enough to power 375 homes.
Georgetown Solar was built, and is owned and operated by OneEnergy Renewables, a Madison-based company with expertise in site development, engineering, equipment purchasing, construction and operations.
Polk-Burnett purchases solar energy output from the array at a fixed rate for 25 years. The timing of Georgetown Solar construction was coordinated with other co-op solar projects across Wisconsin to get a better price and return on investment for members.
“The project provides both operational and financial benefits by generating some of our own power locally,” said Polk-Burnett General Manager Steve Stroshane. “Georgetown Solar not only adds more clean energy to the grid, but it will also relieve overloading on substation equipment and help offset power market costs.”
Georgetown Solar is located next to the Bunyan Substation, at the intersection of Cty Rd I and H in the Town of Georgetown, Polk County. This site was selected to help meet high summer demand at the Bunyan Substation. The array has 4,472 panels that operate on a tracking system to follow the path of the sun for maximum power generation.
The ground under the array is being restored with pasture, prairie grasses and wildflowers, providing habitat for pollinators and healthy root systems to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain.
“Co-op solar arrays are dual-purpose spaces that provide energy for members, as well as acres of important ecosystems,” said Stroshane.
“Polk-Burnett supports a balanced, measured strategy to diversify energy generation and carbon reduction. Our mission is to provide safe, reliable electricity at a competitive cost,” said Stroshane. “This project helps us become less reliant on volatile energy markets during peak summer days and strengthens local grid reliability.”
Georgetown Solar is the second utility scale solar array in Polk-Burnett’s service territory. The first, SunTuria Solar, was dedicated in 2017 behind the co-op office in Centuria. The 1.25 MW array generates power for about 200 homes. It is owned and operated by ENGIE North American, and the co-op purchases the solar energy output. School and community groups are invited for tours.