Why is DORAL targeting this area for a Project?

Renewable energy developers, including DORAL, target relatively flat areas with low population density. Agricultural areas are beneficial because they require little grading or tree clearing. Equally important is access to high voltage transmission lines with available capacity. Communities possessing all of these characteristics are rare and well positioned to benefit from solar facilities.

How will this solar farm impact prime farmland in the state?

Wisconsin is home to roughly 14.3 million acres of farmland, including 6.2 million acres of prime farmland. Other solar farms are being developed in Wisconsin and if every project moves forward, it would cover only 0.25% of Wisconsin’s prime farmland.

How will the community benefit from the Project?

There are several benefits for the community. These include:

  • Direct payments to local government will be in the millions of dollars per year and will start being distributed when the project begins producing energy. Importantly, these payments are made without need for any increased services. Any infrastructure improvements required for construction or operations will be paid for by DORAL. This is in addition to the direct payments made to participating landowners.
  • Solar development provides benefits to both agriculture and ecosystems by improving soil health, retaining water, nurturing native species, and supporting native pollinators that aid in local food production. Taking some land out of agricultural production during the 30-year lease period reduces the amount of fertilizers and pesticides entering the soil and groundwater. Land converted from agricultural to solar arrays will be planted with native vegetation that do not require these chemicals, and that will provide value to local pollinator species.
  • Solar is driving economic growth throughout the country. There are approximately 230,000 Americans working in the solar industry, spread across 10,000 companies. Almost half of all new power plant capacity installed in the US is powered by solar. DORAL will use local labor whenever possible to build and run the Project.
How will the landowner benefit from the Project?

Farmers and other landowners choosing to participate in the Project will benefit from stable, consistent rent payments that can assist farmers in diversifying their income streams in a manner  not subject to commodity price and weather fluctuations and drought. These lease payments will increase over the life of the Project and are independent of any fluctuations in power prices. Landowners will not need to worry about sourcing farm labor or input prices during the life of the Project.

How will the project ensure protection of nearby wildlife habitat?

Vista Sands Solar met with representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) on numerous occasions in 2023 to focus on incorporating key design principals that mitigate adverse impacts to the GRPC while providing ecological benefits to grassland bird species. The Project will not include any panels within 500 feet of GRPC leks identified during WDNR lek surveys and will restore thousands of acres of grasslands, creating suitable habitats that restore the native insect community and provide the basis for grassland bird species’ diets. Learn more about Vista Sands Solar’s protection of wildlife habitat.

What is DORAL’s experience in developing solar farms?

DORAL is an experienced solar developer in Israel and Europe. While the US operations of Doral are only a few years old, the management team has decades of collective experience in developing, constructing, financing, and operating wind and solar projects in the US. DORAL has been awarded several large power contracts with large utilities and is currently constructing the largest solar farm in the U.S. in Indiana.

Does the Project require local zoning changes?

The Project does not require any change to zoning codes. The project is reviewed at the state level and regulations do not require any rezoning. Those codes, if unchanged, will remain applicable to the land once the Project is no longer present.

How will this Project change the look of the land?

Solar panels do not extend high into the air, and they have a linear layout that is like crop rows.  Panels will be set back from non-participating residential properties, and the Project will utilize natural visual barriers where possible to integrate the site into the landscape.

How does Wisconsin’s winter with less sunshine and snow impact the solar panels?

The solar panels are black and pitched, so snow is not an obstacle to a functioning solar farm. Cost declines of 85% over the last several years, combined with increased efficiency, make solar farms viable even in places like Wisconsin. Solar panels are just as efficient in cold weather, and snow can even increase the amount of light reflected off the ground, which enhances the energy produced by bifacial panels, which absorbs solar power on both sides of the panel. 

Where will the energy go and how much energy will be produced?

The energy from the solar farm will be fed into the local electric grid. While the physics of the electric system dictate where the energy goes, most typically some of the energy will be used locally and some will move through the grid to other locations.

What will happen to our electricity rates?

Solar power costs have declined more than 80% over the last 10 years and solar is now competing against, and often beating, the price of other forms of generation. Additionally, because solar requires no fuel inputs, it can provide long-term stable pricing to utilities and corporate users. It is for these reasons that utilities throughout the country are increasingly using solar power to meet the long term needs of their customers. The rates paid by local customers will continue to be set by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and collected by your local utility.

What if the company has financial trouble? Is there risk that the solar panels will be abandoned?

No. As part of the approval process at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, DORAL must submit a decommissioning plan, which will provide milestones and financial obligations associated with decommissioning the Project. The joint development agreement to be entered with local government also will have financial commitments from DORAL to ensure that adequate funds exist to decommission the Project at the end of its useful life.

DORAL is an experienced developer who has devoted substantial capital to the development of a strong Project. The Project will generate clean energy for decades–energy that is valuable not only for its ability to provide safe power to Wisconsin, but also clean power to end-use customers.

Do the solar panels present a risk of fire?

The risk of fire in a utility-scale solar project is incredibly low. Safety mechanisms ensure that if there are any issues with the panels, action can be quickly taken to eliminate any further risk that could arise. DORAL will coordinate with local fire departments and first responders to ensure that these safety personnel have all the information they need in the unlikely event of a fire.

What happens when the Project is done?

When the useful life of the Project is over, the panels and all above ground equipment will be removed so that the land can be returned to its original use, including farming.  Permitting requirements also require that adequate financial resources are available for decommissioning. Ninety percent of the panels are made up of material that is recyclable, much of it glass, and the remaining materials can be disposed of in a landfill. The monocrystalline silicon PV panels that will be installed a do not contain any hazardous materials that could contaminate local soil or groundwater.