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Cudahy's largest solar farm generates power for roughly 700 homes from 7,000 panels

Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 21, 2023

CUDAHY — A solar farm in Milwaukee County isn't the largest, but it's not trying to be either. What it is doing is using something that’s not normally available in urban areas, land.

We Energies and ATI Forged Products created the largest solar farmin Cudahy. It can provide enough clean energy to power about 700 homes when the sun is shining. That energy doesn't go directly to 700 homes. Rather, it is dispersed through the energy grid.

“We took this space that normally would have just sat with some grass and maybe a few birds, and we have now turned it into this clean energy producer," Brendan Conway, a spokesperson for We Energies said.

Solar Panels
The solar farm is part of We Energies Solar Now program which aims to become carbon net-neutral by 2050.

The solar farm near the corner of Whitnall and Grange Avenues has about 7,000 solar panels. It's located on top of land owned by ATI that was previously unusable.

"I used to drive by this area every day and didn't see anything, but now I look at it and think that we’re powering 700 homes daily," Justin Wood, Senior Leader in the Operations Department of ATI Forged Products, said.

It's all part of We Energies Solar Now program.

“Reducing our emission 60 percent, by 2025 80 percent, by 2030, and being net carbon neutral by 2050," Conway said.

The utility company partners with large clients, municipalities, and schools to create solar farms. We Energies rents the land at Whitnall and Grange land from ATI. It also rents a small solar farm near the airport and a rooftop farm on the Harley Davidson building in Menomonee Falls. In total, We Energies has 25 projects up and running with four under construction, and a few others planned.

"In the metro area, we don’t have a lot of spaces like that. So a space like this is prime," Conway said.

Solar Panels
Solar panels at the solar farm created by We Energies and ATI Forged Products in Cudahy.

Sure, We Energies has farms with 500,000 solar panels that produce much more energy, but that’s in rural areas. You have to get creative to make solar farms possible in urban areas.

“We brought in over 20,000 cubic yards of clean fill. Then we had to drive over 800 piles for the solar panels to sit on. We installed 7000 solar panels over a mile of wiring above ground," Wood said.

It’s all about maximizing the usefulness and value of the resources we have at hand. Rather than the land sitting unused, it's harnessing the power of the sun to create solar energy.

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