Wisconsin park replaces old electrical line with solar + storage microgrid for half the cost

Alliant Energy Sauk City Microgrid Project

An Alliant Energy solar generation and battery storage project will provide power to a park building and cabin when they reopen later this year just south of Sauk City, Wis. The new system replaces an overhead line that previously brought electricity to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) structures.

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“The electrical line that ran from the power pole to the recreation area was near the end of its useful life and needed to be rebuilt,” said Michael Graves, Alliant Energy senior engineer. “It became clear that doing so would be challenging and costly due to the rocky and steep terrain it traveled over. So, we pulled a group together to look at other options.”

An Alliant Energy project team collaborated with DNR staff and found a creative, clean-energy and cost-effective microgrid option, including a small solar array and an affiliated battery that will operate separately from the larger grid.

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“Building the microgrid was about half the cost of rebuilding the overhead line,” Graves said. “Another benefit is that we’re using the location as a pilot project. We’ll monitor how it performs and see if it can be used as a model for other parts of our service area.”

The microgrid was energized earlier this year. It includes a six-kilowatt solar generation system, a 42-kilowatt-hour battery, a charge controller, inverter and cellular communications. It will provide power for lighting and a water pump at the DNR building and cabin in the more than 800-acre Black Hawk Unit of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. The recreational area will now be powered entirely by renewable energy.

“Not only does this project further our organizational effort to transition to green energy, but it also improves the natural beauty of the area by removing the visible power lines,” said DNR Secretary’s Director Mark Aquino. “We are proud to partner with Alliant Energy on the project and look forward to having it provide electricity to our Black Hawk Ridge area of the Riverway anytime the area is open to visitors.”

The microgrid, which will typically be used seasonally from May through October, is located about 3.5 miles south of Sauk City.

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