Rice Lake Utilities – Reducing grid demand and controlling costs with solar

The Rice Lake solar array is a 3.75 MW-AC photovoltaic solar generation array located in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Through a solar Purchase Power Agreement (PPA), Rice Lake Utilities purchases a portion of their electricity supply from this solar array, which AEP OnSite Partners built, owns and operates.

By locking in a portion of their electricity through a PPA, the municipal utility provider can save money during peak demand times, reduce the demand on the grid to avoid controlled outages, and help control costs for the community.


Located in northwest Wisconsin, Rice Lake Utilities, a municipal utility provider for the City of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, serves more than 5,000 residents and businesses. The utility provider for this small rural community was seeking an economical solution to avoid paying high wholesale costs during peak demand times for electricity.

Rice Lake Utilities selected AEP Onsite Partners (‘AEP OnSite’), a well-known and trusted subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), to lead this project. The experts at AEP OnSite helped guide, inform, and ultimately install and own a solar array where Rice Lake Utilities purchases electricity generated from it at a 30-year fixed price.

The Challenge

Due to the increase in demand, Rice Lake Utilities is always looking for innovative ways to help reduce its wholesale power costs during peak conditions and provide those savings to the community. In addition, because of the grid demand, the regional transmission operator had warned of temporary, controlled outages due to a lack of energy generation in the region. Given these challenges, the municipal utility provider was seeking a solution to control costs and help do their part by reducing demand on the grid.

The Solution

With the challenges Rice Lake was facing and knowing that the hottest days of summer are when solar fields are at their peak performance, it was determined that solar would be the optimal solution. A solar array would be working hardest when the City of Rice Lake needed extra energy the most.

The solution was a 4.5 MW-DC / 3.75 MW-AC solar array, which featured 11,125 bifacial panels that rotate to track the sun’s path in the sky. AEP Onsite Partners provided the funding for the array and managed the entire installation. Through a Purchase Power Agreement, Rice Lake Utilities simply buys the electricity that the solar array generates at a rate that will be fixed for 30 years.

Both Rice Lake Utilities and AEP Onsite Partners are happy to report that during the first June that the solar array was in commercial operation the array produced over 10% more electricity than originally planned.


AEP Onsite Partners was great to work with from the conception to the final execution of the project. Their experience and professionalism were evident throughout the process. Rice Lake Utilities is looking forward to having the energy assist from the solar field for the next 30 years, especially during the sunny, hot days of summer when energy prices are at their highest.”
Tim Aaby, Rice Lake Utilities, General Manager and CFO