Cheq Bay Renewables Community Solar Project
aka. The Washburn/Bayfield Solar Project
August, 2021 Update: The Cheq Bay Renewables Community Solar Project (aka the Washburn-Bayfield Solar Project) has been recognized as a Wisconsin Top Rural Development and has been selected to receive the 2021 Wisconsin Top Rural Development Initiative award. This honor is one of three awards presented in 2021 by Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. The award presentation will be scheduled in early fall 2021 at a location to be disclosed in Bayfield County. Read the full press release here.
June, 2020 Update: The last of the Washburn/Bayfield solar installations is complete: the Washburn Elementary School. The 124kW dc ground mounted solar installation will generate approximately 58% of the school's electrical needs. Congratulations to the Washburn School District!
February 20, 2020 Update: Bayfield County's solar installations at the Washburn County Garage and the County Jail are now live and producing solar energy. Congratulations to Bayfield County! When combined with the shares in Xcel's community solar garden, Bayfield County's buildings are now producing 62% of their electric needs from solar energy.
November 22, 2019 Update: The Greater Bayfield WWTP and the Washburn WWTP have been commissioned and are now producing solar power. The Bayfield County Garage is ready for inspection and the County Jail should have its electrical connection completed soon.
November 2, 2019 Update: Both the Greater Bayfield WWTP and the Washburn WWTP have passed the State inspections and are now waiting for Xcel Energy to commission the systems, which means "flip the switch". The Bayfield County Garage is undergoing electrical interconnection and the Bayfield County Jail's solar modules are up and will be connected next. Meanwhile, the Washburn Elementary School had its posts set this past week and completion is scheduled for next spring. Yes, the process takes time, but many years of solar production lie ahead!
September 10, 2019 Update: The Washburn WWTP has its solar arrays erected and the next step is for Jolma Electric to complete the interconnection. Meanwhile, construction should be starting at the Bayfield County Jail soon and then the Bayfield County Highway Garage in Washburn. The Greater Bayfield WWTP is complete and waiting on State inspection and commissioning. Our Facebook page has updated photos.
July 16th, 2019 Update: The Greater Bayfield WWTP installation is nearly complete. We hope the State inspection and commissioning by Xcel Energy will take place in September and the solar installation will be energized. Check out our Facebook page for updates and photos.
June 11th, 2019 Update: The Washburn City Council reversed a May decision and chose to proceed with a 100kW ac solar PV installation at their waste water treatment plant. We thank the City Council members for reconsidering this project and construction should being in August, 2019. Meanwhile, the Greater Bayfield WWTP Commission will start construction of their 100kW ac solar PV installation at their WWTP next week, June 17th, 2019. We are waiting on final details for Bayfield County and the Washburn School District's installations, and will update this page when contracts are finalized.
April 19th, 2019 Update: On April 16th, 2019 the City of Washburn received bids for the solar installation at its WWTP. The bids were below preliminary estimates and the bid tab sheet is here. On April 19th, 2019 the remaining bids for the area projects are due by 5:00pm. Please attend the Bayfield County Board meeting on April 23, 2019, 6:00pm to express support for this project. The project has been two years in development and a timeline is presented below:
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. From May 2017 to October 2018, CBR’s Team developed 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.
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.
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). Three 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 and $48,676 for the High School.
On November 28th, 2018, the Washburn School District received an additional $40,000 grant, $20,000 for each school, to advance solar PV from a program called Solar for Good.
On March 29, 2019, the Greater Bayfield Waste Water Treatment Plant Commission received $56,409 from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy RECIP program and Bayfield County received two awards from RECIP, $58,248 for the County Jail and $19,666 for the Washburn Highway Garage.
To date, six sites have received grant funding and a summary table can be found here. The six sites (four site owners) listed in the table have sent out Bid Documents which are due by April 19, 2019. Once the bids are known, a revised financial analysis will be presented to the four site owners and final decisions to move forward with the projects will be made. Construction for advancing projects will take place during the summer of 2019.