Construction of a 2,047-acre, 325-megawatt solar farm spanning parts of Rock and Walworth counties between Delavan and Beloit was approved Thursday by Wisconsin regulators.
Set to straddle the towns of Bradford and Darien, the Darien Solar Energy Center could produce enough energy to power 75,000 homes.
Construction is slated to begin this fall and the project is expected to go online sometime in late 2023.
The project is the ninth large-scale solar project approved in the state by the Public Service Commission. And it would be by far the largest in terms of power generation of six such projects in the planning stages for rural areas in Rock, Walworth, Jefferson and Green counties.
The 325 megawatts of power generation the Darien solar project is expected to produce would be more than twice that of the next largest solar project proposed for the region—the 149-megawatt Badger State Project in northwest Jefferson County.
John Lader, former chairman of the La Prairie Town Board, told The Gazette in April that the Darien project would produce payments of $1 million a year to Rock and Walworth counties and the two towns.
The Darien project, as envisioned by developer Invenergy of Chicago, will produce 250 megawatts of solar generation and 75 megawatts of battery storage capacity.
The future site of the energy center is currently leased by local farmers. According to Invenergy, the site will remain in agricultural production, and prairie grass and pollinator species will “nourish soils and support healthy wildlife habitats.”
In February, the PSC and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found construction of the project was “unlikely to have a significant impact on the human environment.”