Monday, June 24, 2024

Opinion | Solar challenge furthers conservation, clean-energy targets | Visitor Columns


For the previous two years, the Vista Sands Solar Project has been diligently planning a state-of-the-art photo voltaic vitality challenge in Portage County, situated within the village of Plover and the cities of Buena Vista, Grant and Plover.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge our devoted neighborhood members and native leaders, and we’re happy to champion Vista Sands Solar as an vital challenge that aligns with Wisconsin’s conservation efforts and renewable vitality targets. or that vitality.

As proposed, the challenge would generate 1,300 megawatts of fresh, carbon-free electrical energy — sufficient to energy greater than 200,000 Wisconsin properties and mark a big step towards Wisconsin’s aim of broader adoption of renewable vitality. Throughout the planning phases and persevering with as we speak, we meet with neighborhood members to make sure that the challenge design displays native considerations and priorities. We usually are not nearly producing energy; We are dedicated to accountable environmental practices and environmental stewardship each step of the best way.

While the financial advantages of the challenge are clear — with over $1 billion in preliminary funding and thousands and thousands in extra income for native municipalities every year — our deal with being a accountable neighbor is crucial. We imagine that environmental stewardship begins with us, so we’re proud to say that Vista Sands Solar will deliver many native environmental advantages.

If constructed to its proposed capability, Vista Sands Solar will restore 6,700 acres of grassland to the world. While a lot of Wisconsin’s grasslands have been misplaced to agricultural and concrete improvement since 1850, Vista Sands will enable vital habitats to be restored whereas nonetheless offering a gradual earnings to native farmers. – farmer. Using a conservation seed combine consisting of 17 native grass and sedge species, in addition to 31 native wildflower species that bloom all through the season, Vista Sands Solar will present a terrific habitat for pollinators and grassland birds. .

In addition, the challenge will drastically remove using fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides utilized in crop manufacturing. Each acre of crops can use between 350 and 900 kilos of fertilizer every year. Conservatively, the challenge will keep away from greater than 1,000 tons of fertilizer all through the challenge space yearly. Similarly, the challenge is predicted to keep away from tens of 1000’s of gallons of pesticides and herbicides per 12 months.

Even the place components of the proposed challenge are situated adjoining to the Buena Vista Wildlife Area, we’re dedicated to making sure greatest practices to help the species that depend upon it.

Vista Sands Solar has met with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a number of events to deal with incorporating design ideas that not solely scale back destructive impacts but in addition present larger ecological advantages. prairie hen (GRPC) and different forms of birds. Vista Sands Solar won’t construct any photo voltaic panel arrays situated inside the Wildlife Area and can chorus from constructing inside 1,000 ft of its GRPC strains.

In addition, the challenge voluntarily eliminated over 500 hectares of potential challenge space to keep away from agricultural lands closest to conservation areas and permit continued motion of species by non-public property. To additional our conservation efforts, we plan to put in chook diverters on challenge fences and restrict chopping to forestall nesting birds. Our partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources will fund graduate analysis assistantships to conduct analysis on avian and different wildlife makes use of in our challenge.

There are roughly 31,000 acres of farmland inside one mile of the world’s 13,000 acres of managed conservation lands. Even if Vista Sands Solar is constructed to full capability, greater than 90% of this subject will stay out there for GRPC operations. Avoiding essentially the most delicate areas, together with recognized lek areas, we imagine that extra restrictions will scale back the advantages of restoring native grasslands, with out essentially lowering the quantity of fresh vitality supplied by the grid, and limit the power of farmers to profit financially from the nation’s transition to renewable vitality.

At Vista Sands Solar, we do not simply construct photo voltaic tasks to energy the state; we’re making a path to a greener future whereas defending Wisconsin’s pure heritage for generations to come back. We stay up for persevering with to work with all stakeholders to create a brighter, extra sustainable tomorrow.

Jon Baker is the vp of Development for Doral Renewables and challenge supervisor for the Vista Sands Solar Project.

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