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Project Profile: The Closed Landfill Solar Project - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ariel view of solar farm

The 2.25-megawatt solar array is the largest solar panel project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will power the equivalent to 460 homes.

Source: Credit to City of Milwaukee

Project Name

The Closed Landfill Solar Project - Milwaukee


Milwaukee, WI

Project Sponsor / Borrower

City of Milwaukee, WI

Program Areas

Public-Private PartnershipProject FinanceValue Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Asset Recycling
Solar Energy Use/Right-of-Way Use Agreements


Other: Solar Farm


In 2020, the Common Council in Milwaukee approved a project that will transform eight acres of land on part of a city-owned, closed landfill near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport into a 2.25-megawatt (MW) solar array. The project, which will be part of We Energies’ Solar Now pilot program, will be the largest solar panel project in the city’s history.

As a part of a 20-year lease, We Energies will construct and operate the solar installation on the city-owned site capable of powering over 450 homes, at no cost to city taxpayers. The utility firm will make lease payments of approximately $100,000 annually based on the power generated and other regulatory factors. In the first year of the deal, We Energies would pay the city for a 50 percent Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) solar accreditation level. In subsequent years, the percentage would fluctuate based upon the measured amount of sunlight as determined by MISO.

We Energies will maintain ownership of the electricity generated and feed it into the grid while the city claims the renewable energy certificates associated with the array, allowing it to be the sole entity able to claim the solar power.

The project will include more than 7,000 panels powering at least 460 homes and will coincide with the city’s goal of obtaining 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. SunVest Solar Inc. of Pewaukee will build the solar array with Trina solar providing the 72-cell solar panels.

Cost No cost to the City/Tax Payer
Funding Sources We Energies
Project Delivery / Contract Method

Lease-leaseback. The project is a 20-year lease on the city-owned land, with the city retaining the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to the project.

Private Partner We Energies
Project Advisors / Consultants
  • We Energies
  • SunVest Solar Inc.
  • Trina Solar
  • City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO)
  • Redevelopment Authority of Milwaukee (RACM)
  • Pieper Electric
  • Current Electric


Duration / Status

Milwaukee city officials announced project plans on Tuesday, March 3, construction has begun with plans to finish by the end of 2020.

Financial Status / Financial Performance

We Energies will pay for the cost of the array through its State-authorized Solar Now program. This program allows We Energies to offer up to 2.25 MW of solar panels to customers, with a program-wide cap of 35 MW.

  • Use Value Capture-ROW Use Agreement to generate lease revenue from a closed city landfill that isn't useful for other forms of development
  • Reduce our use fossil fuels and accelerate new clean energy project
  • Building a profitable, renewable energy source on an otherwise unusable parcel of land for other forms of development.
  • Contribute to the city’s goal of renewable energy generating 25 percent of the city’s energy by 2025.
  • Supports emergency preparedness by powering the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard should the electrical grid become compromised.
  • Solar installation on the city-owned site capable of powering over 450 homes, at no cost to city taxpayers.
Related Links / Articles

Erick Shambarger
Director of Environmental Sustainability, City of Milwaukee
(414) 286-8556

Group photo.

Bryan Simon (Simon Landscaping), 13th District Alderman Scott Spiker, Leif Otteson (Gateway Executive Director) were on site for the official announcement on the new solar farm at 1600 E. College Ave.

Source: Credit to City of Milwaukee Land Management System

Group photo.

The 44-acre site at 1600 E. College Ave.

Source: Credit to City of Milwaukee Land Management System

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