Alliant Energy creates solar + storage microgrid as non-wires alternative for Wisconsin park

Alliant Energy Sauk City Microgrid Project

Alliant Energy this week said that a new microgrid consisting of a 6-kW solar generation system, a 42-kilowatt-hour battery, a charge controller, inverter, and cellular communications will provide power for lighting and a water pump at an 800-acre park just south of Sauk City, Wisconsin.

The utility said it built the microgrid because the electrical line that powered the park was at the end of its life and needed to be rebuilt. When looking at the costs, Michael Graves, Alliant Energy senior engineer, said it became clear that a new electric line would be “costly due to the rocky and steep terrain it traveled over.”

After assembling a team made up of Alliant Energy engineers and representatives from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), owner of the park, the group settled on a microgrid to power the 800-acre Black Hawk Unit of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. The recreational area will now be powered entirely by renewable energy.

“Building the microgrid was about half the cost of rebuilding the overhead line,” Graves said. “Another benefit is that we’re using the location as a pilot project. We’ll monitor how it performs and see if it can be used as a model for other parts of our service area.”

“Not only does this project further our organizational effort to transition to green energy, but it also improves the natural beauty of the area by removing the visible power lines,” said DNR Secretary’s Director Mark Aquino. “We are proud to partner with Alliant Energy on the project and look forward to having it provide electricity to our Black Hawk Ridge area of the Riverway anytime the area is open to visitors.”

 The microgrid, which will typically be used seasonally from May through October, is located about 3.5 miles south of Sauk City. It was energized earlier this year.

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Jennifer Runyon manages content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International and also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at

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