An Evaluation of the Koshkonong Solar Project

What was your driving question?

How will the proposed Koshkonong Solar Project impact the local community?

Grades Involved

10th

What PBE principles were highlighted in this project?

Project Description

Our state’s largest renewable energy plant is proposed to be built on over 2,400 acres surrounding our small village of 1,332 people. A student proposed this project as a way to learn more about the possible impacts of the solar farm, evaluate the opposing sides, and develop his own environmental and community impact statements. The student began the project in favor of solar and renewable energy. While still heavily in favor of renewable energy, the student developed great concern about the misuse of tax loopholes (tax breaks meant for struggling farmers), the solar panels “landlocking” our village, and local farmers not being able to compete for leasing land.

How did this project connect to your local or regional community?

For this project, the student researched both sides of a controversial proposed large-scale solar farm in our local community. They evaluated possible impacts on the local economy, property values, ecosystem, and the community as a whole. They also listened to concerned citizens, attended village board meetings, and researched the impact of similar projects in other rural communities.

How did this positively impact the community? How was it shared?

The student learned more about local village board procedures as well as how to voice concerns in a community. The student evaluated the role of the Wisconsin DNR in project approval when environmental concerns are present. The student’s work was shared in a school project showcase.

Reflection: What was the biggest challenge? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?

The biggest challenge was finding comparable-sized solar farms to learn from as this would be the largest in our state. The rewarding aspect was the real-world relevance and involvement in the local conversation with community members.

Any advice for a teacher or student that is implementing a PBE project for the first time?

This project was great in that it helped me to learn more about the pros and cons of solar. Solar can be a great alternative to fossil fuels, but the technology is still far from perfect as the batteries use rare medals and the panels lose efficiency over time and then disposal becomes another issue” – Jonathan Yerges

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