Washburn Solar Project
In April 2017, Cheq Bay Renewables (CBR) was selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative’s Solar in Your Community Challenge, a $5 million prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access. Over the next 18 months, CBR’s Team will develop an innovative project that initially included the City of Washburn, Bayfield County, the City of Washburn and County of Bayfield Housing Authority, and the Washburn School District to incorporate solar PV for approximately 18 municipal sites.
In January 2018, CBR received additional funds from the Solar in Your Community Challenge and expanded the initial project to include the City of Bayfield, the Bayfield School District, and the Greater Bayfield Waste Water Treatment Plant. Preliminary feasibility studies were also undertaken for the tribes of Red Cliff and Bad River in separate projects.
This project will demonstrate how local investors can cost-effectively finance solar energy so there is no upfront cost to these government entities. The model developed from this pilot project will inform other municipalities, schools, or tribes looking to go solar.
The engineering report for the first phase of the Solar Project was presented on October 26th, 2017 in the County Board Room. The full engineering report can be viewed here.
On March 12, 2018 the second phase was completed by Madison Solar Consulting. This phase included four reports including a Trip Report, a Financial Analysis of the most promising sites, a Scenario Analysis of a few selected sites, and a statement of the Analysis Assumptions. The financial analysis included sites in Washburn selected from the initial engineering report and well as additional sites around Bayfield.
The Financial Analysis includes three options for each entity, full-ownership, ownership with debt financing, and financing through a third party participant (TPP) to monetize the Federal tax credits. The next step is for each municipality to evaluate these options, as well as the community solar option presented by Xcel Energy, and determine the best path forward. Any construction would likely take place in the summer of 2019.
On July 30th, 2018, Madison Solar Consulting submitted four Energy Innovation Grant Program applications from Wisconsin's Office of Energy Innovation to further develop the solar project for the area municipalities and school districts. On Sept. 27, 2018, the PSC announced the awards and three out of four grants that Madison Solar Consulting & CBR submitted were awarded. The Washburn School District, Bayfield County and the Drummond School District will have solar PV and energy efficiency projects advance. You can read the PSC press release here, and see a list and map of all the Energy Innovation Grants here.
On November 21, 2018, WI's Focus on Energy program announced awards for its Renewables Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP). Two of our area projects received funding. The City of Washburn received $79,119 to cover 34% of the cost of installing a 100kW ac solar PV generation facility at its sewer plant. The Washburn School District received $55,313 for an installation at the elementary school. The City of Washburn has until December 11th to accept this award and the Washburn School District has until Dec. 7th. Please contact your City and School District representatives to support these projects. The City of Washburn has the solar project on its December 10th City Council meeting agenda and you are encouraged to speak during the public comment period.
In addition, on November 28th, 2018, the School District received a $40,000 grant, $20,000 for each school, to advance solar PV from a program called Solar for Good. The School District has until December 5th to accept this award.
So, there is a lot going on with the Washburn/Bayfield Solar Project. As these projects advance, we will continue to update this page, so check back soon.