Superior Water, Light and Power is offering a new renewable energy option for the customers it serves.

The company’s community solar garden is expected to be generating power later this year.

SWL&P submitted its proposal to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on Jan 3. Pending approval from the PSC, construction on Superior’s first community solar garden will get underway in June.

The solar garden, named Superior Solar, will be built on land SWL&P owns at 2828 Hammond Ave., near Heritage Park. The 2.5-acre site was chosen because the local distribution grid can handle the additional energy. At 470 kilowatt hours, it’s large enough to power about 115 homes. All SWL&P residential and business customers are eligible to participate.

“Customers have told us that they want solar, and a community solar garden is a great option for residents who might not be able to install rooftop solar on their own," said SWL&P President Rob Sandstrom. "They can support a local renewable energy resource without having to purchase, install or maintain solar panels or other equipment at their home or business. We can leverage economies of scale to build a bigger project for the community and provide a convenient, cost-effective way for our customers to be more involved with how their energy is produced.”

According to SWL&P's application to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, the original 50-kilowatt-hour garden the company was planning was expanded to 470 kWh to meet community demand for the renewable energy option.

The cost of the solar garden — including installation and maintenance over the 25-year life of the program — will be fully paid by customer subscriptions. Program costs will be fixed, which gives customers protection against potentially rising energy costs. Subscribers will retain ownership of Solar Renewable Energy Credits.

Subscriptions will be offered in 1-kilowatt-hour blocks, and customers can choose to purchase enough to cover all or a portion of their monthly electricity needs. Subject to PSC approval, residential and business customers will be able to choose from three options: an upfront one-time payment, a fixed monthly subscription fee or a fixed charge per kilowatt-hour.

Subscription costs will not be finalized until the PSC approves the project and overall project costs have been finalized.

In each option, participating customers receive a monthly credit for solar energy based on their subscription. All of the options are based on 25-year agreements, but customers will have the flexibility to leave the program at any time without penalty.

SWL&P will accept subscribers on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers can visit www.swlp.com/solar, call (715) 395-6220 or email solarprogram@swlp.com for more information.