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a 2020 file photo of a 440-acre swath of farmland off County M and West Pomeroy Road in the town of Fulton that Alliant Energy has bought and plans to develop as a 50-megawatt solar farm.

JANESVILLE

Alliant Energy and a partner could start groundwork as soon as this week on a 440-acre solar project in the town of Fulton.

The Madison-based electric utility announced it has assumed ownership of parcels for a 50-megawatt, solar array farm called North Rock Solar on fields off County M and West Pomeroy Road.

The project is just one solar farm Alliant plans to build in the next few years under a plan recently approved by state utility regulator the Public Service Commission to generate 675 megawatts of solar power throughout Wisconsin.

The portfolio of projects the agency approved this summer includes a 65-megawatt solar farm planned in the town of Beloit and another large solar farm in Jefferson County.

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By 2023, Alliant seeks to build 1,100 megawatts of solar production on farmland in nine Wisconsin counties as part of a strategy by Alliant to boost its reliance on clean energy.

For the town of Fulton project, Alliant is taking over land that had been held by green energy developer National Grid Renewables. When the project is complete, the solar farm will be capable of powering about 12,000 homes, Alliant officials said.

Overall, Alliant’s growing foray into solar in Wisconsin would ultimately produce enough capacity to power 300,000 homes. In the Fulton project alone, Alliant projects the solar farm will generate about $200,000 a year in shared revenue to Rock County.

Alliant in a release said it is now partnering with Kansas City, Missouri, firm Burns & McDonnell on construction. This month, civil engineering and excavating work will roll out on site, including work to smooth the project land and ready it for construction of solar panels and electric infrastructure.

Early groundwork involves fencing, grading of terrain, seeding the ground with prairie grass that will serve as ground cover while the solar farm is in use, and construction of needed service roads and drainage and retention ponds.

Such solar projects take about a year to complete, and they have an operating life of at least 30 years before the owners would return the land to other suitable uses, including agriculture, Alliant has said.

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