Charter Steel proposes solar facility in town

Company aims to reduce its carbon footprint, officials concerned about look of fence around panels
Ozaukee Press staff

Charter Steel Manufacturing has submitted a conditional use permit application to the Town of Saukville to construct and operate a solar energy generation facility.

“We’ve been looking at this for quite some time as a company,” Rob Thompson, director of environmental at Charter Steel, said. “Solar will enable us to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Solar panels would be installed on two   parcels north of Charter Steel’s current facility. Thompson said conversations with the town are informal and exploratory. The prospective facility underwent a non-binding review at the town’s Aug. 9 Plan Commision meeting.

“It’s still very premature,” Thompson said. “We haven’t gotten approval from all parts of the organization yet.”

During the first review plan commissioners were optimistic about the project and had few concerns. The Plan Commission’s primary worry is ensuring the facility won’t be an eyesore to neighboring residents.

“I am going to talk about the fencing, specifically where it’s close to people. I want to make sure they have something that doesn’t look like there is a jail next door,” Chairman Kevin Kimmes said.

Kimmes suggested planting low shrubs to help soften the look. Alongside Kimmes’ beautification concerns, commision member Marcia Nosko was concerned about keeping curious people away from the facility.

“I also think it’s a great idea to talk about fencing,” Nosko said. “There are a lot of people around that. It seems like curiosity seekers, especially kids, might consider scaling that fence.”

Ryan Peters, director of development engineering and environmental compliance at SolAmerica Energy, Charter Steel’s contractor for the project, said the fence will  not be a typical chain link fence. Charter Steel will use a deer fencing to protect the area.

“The fence’s wiring goes straight up and down and then parallel,” Peters said. “It creates little boxes while the chain link fence that creates diamonds. You can make the fences so you can’t climb them — the gaps are very small.”

The facility is expected to have a low-impact on residents’ everyday life with little to no impact on traffic and noise levels below 60 decibels, according to the permit application. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states this noise level is similar to a normal conversation.

The project will move forward with a second review before the town’s Plan Commission in the coming weeks.



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