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Enough solar energy to power 1,300 homes: Mercury Marine solar array gets regulatory approval

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-08 18:53:02-05
  • We're giving you a bird's eye view of the project that can produce enough energy to power 1,300 homes annually.
  • Video shows the partnership between Mercury Marine, Alliant Energy and a local farm.

A massive solar project in Fond du Lac is set to offset energy usage for the area’s largest employer.
Olivia Halbur’s family has lived on their Fond du Lac farm for four generations. And when she was first approached by the utility company One Energy about leasing her land for their solar project, she said she was a bit apprehensive.

“If we couldn’t graze our sheep under solar panels, we would’ve said no,” Halbur said. “We gave up our land for pretty much the rest of my life. “

But, she had learned how her sheep could benefit from the 12,000 panels.

“So, the sheep will eat it and keep the grass below the panels, so they're not shaded and still produce power,” Halbur said. “But if you were to come in and drive a tractor through here and equipment, then you're burning fossil fuels.”

So, she said yes, bringing another source of income to her land.

“This is that dual-purpose use,” Halbur said. “We're not losing the farmland where you are with other projects.”

This project is a collaboration between Alliant Energy and Mercury Marine, which is Fond du Lac’s largest employer.

The energy generated by the panels will go into the grid and offset about 10% of Mercury Marine’s electricity usage—which is about the annual energy usage of 1,300 homes.

“We are proud of our commitment to these things and we're looking forward to the year ahead and doing more,” Mercury Marine Communications Manager Shelly Kuhn said.

This project recently got regulatory approval by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which looked at the impact of the project on the larger community.

“This project doesn't impact rates for any of our customers in the Fond du Lac area,” Alliant Energy Communications Partner Chris Caporale said,

And for Halbur. . . she’s looking forward to another opportunity to give back..

“We're not only feeding the community now, but we are giving them power,” Halbur said. “This solar site, thirty acres, is enough power for all the homes in our township, which is pretty incredible.

This solar array is set to be operational by the spring.