EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Nov. 3, 2016) With the sun shining brightly above, Xcel Energy broke ground on the first Solar*Connect Community project in Eau Claire today.

Mark Stoering, president, Xcel Energy, Wisconsin; Kerry Kincaid, president, Eau Claire City Council; Dale Peters, Eau Claire city manager; and Troy Helming, CEO, Pristine Sun, addressed a large group of subscribers and community members at the site of the Eau Claire community solar garden.

The soon-to-be-constructed solar array will be on 7 ½ acres of an abandoned landfill near the company’s Wisconsin headquarters on West Hamilton Avenue in the Sky Park Industrial Park. Solar-developer Pristine Sun is leasing the property from the city of Eau Claire. A second similar-sized array is planned for the La Crosse area in 2017.

“Today 24 percent of the electricity our customers use is generated from clean, renewable resources, but some of our customers have said they wanted more options,” said Stoering to attendees at the groundbreaking. “Through this  community solar garden, we are providing a local option for our customers who want to power some or all of the energy needs with solar energy, but cannot or do not want to install their own solar panels.”

The program is being offered to business and residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently, about 65 percent of the panels in the Eau Claire and La Crosse projects have been reserved. Developer-partner Pristine Sun, will own, operate and maintain the arrays. Work will begin on the site this month with the Eau Claire garden expected to be in service in early 2017.

“Until today, this land was not a productive piece of property in the city,” said Dale Peters, Eau Claire City manager. “We are excited to partner with Pristine Sun and Xcel Energy to create a new and modern use of this site, and we look forward to using electricity generated at this garden to power our community pool.”

When complete, Solar*Connect Community, including the gardens in Eau Claire and near La Crosse, will produce up to 2,000 kilowatts of electricity available to any Xcel Energy Wisconsin electricity customer who wants to offset some or all of their electricity usage with renewable energy. The program is revenue neutral for Xcel Energy and paid for by only the customers who choose to subscribe. These customers will receive bill credits for 25 years

Xcel Energy continues to offer subscriptions at a cost of $1,780 per kilowatt. The minimum subscription size is 200 watts for an upfront cost of $356, which would produce enough energy to offset about 3 percent of an average residential customer’s usage. Subscriptions can be sized up to 100 percent of a customer’s average annual usage, not to exceed 400 kilowatts.

Customers will pay a deposit of $200 per kilowatt, with the remainder of the subscription fee due when the solar garden is operational, likely in early 2017. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com/SolarConnectCommunity.