Vista Sands Solar Farm

Wisconsin-grown clean energy

Vista Sands Solar Farm is a solar project proposed near the towns of Plover and Grant in Portage County. The 1,200-megawatt project will:

  • Provide enough energy to power 200,000 homes – almost three times the households in Portage County.

  • Bring a total capital investment of over $1.5 billion.

  • Generate $4.8 million annually for local communities hosting the project.

  • Create approximately 500 jobs during construction and about 50 permanent jobs.

  • Improve water quality for local waterways.

  • Provide native pollinator habitat among the solar arrays.

1.2 gigawatts (GW)

The biggest step yet on our path to net-zero in Wisconsin


Solar energy can provide benefits far beyond climate change mitigation. In many cases, solar development offers additional benefits to the people and places hosting the project. These co-benefits include increased tax base, groundwater protection, increased landowner return, and habitat restoration. By focusing on the needs of the people, community, and environment around the solar project, the local benefits alone can be reason enough to support utility-scale solar.

In Wisconsin, owners of large solar farms pay every year into a utility aid fund that is shared with the hosting local governments. When completed and operational, Vista Sands Solar will generate approximately $4.8 million in annual payments for local governments to use at their discretion. The increased tax base will provide additional support to schools and other community services.

The project is also expected to generate:

Millions of dollars in new earnings to businesses in Portage County during the construction phase.

500 jobs during the construction phase.

50 permanent jobs.

Utility-scale solar developments offer benefits to both agriculture and ecosystems by improving soil health, retaining water, nurturing native species, and supporting native pollinators, which in turn support local food production. Solar farms can also help farmers and landowners diversify their income by providing a reliable, drought-resistant revenue stream. This steady income means that farmers are less vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices, uncertain trade regimes, and changing weather patterns, helping farmers stay in business. At the end of its useful life, the project will be decommissioned, and the land will be available for all future potential uses, including traditional agriculture.

A solar project’s environmental benefits can extend beyond the climate and air quality benefits of displacing fossil fuel generation when the facility is sited in a way where its physical footprint will enhance local environmental quality rather than displacing important natural habitat. Nutrients—specifically phosphorus and nitrogen—and other chemicals like pesticides that are inputs on agricultural fields get washed into nearby waterways with stormwater or snowmelt, or flow through the soil into groundwater. Solar facilities vegetated with perennial grassland can reduce this water pollution by not requiring nutrient application and greatly reducing soil erosion. This reduced erosion and runoff contributes to improved local water quality.

Additional environmental benefits from replacing the row cropped fields with solar farms featuring native vegetation include enhanced pollinator habitat and increased soil carbon sequestration. A recent study modeling ecosystem services at solar energy facilities in Midwestern states found that a solar facility planted with native plants improves pollinator habitat by 300% and provides 65% more carbon storage than pre-solar row cropping agricultural land use.

Vista Sands Solar Farm will generate millions of dollars in health benefits every year by displacing fossil fuel generation. These positive health impacts include avoided heart attacks, asthma exacerbation, and even reductions in early mortality. Public health benefits are not limited to the communities in Portage County, everyone in Wisconsin and beyond can enjoy longer, healthier lives by transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.

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