Solar Farm Oversight at Federal Level

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(image courtesy of Pixabay/Public Domain) (image courtesy of Pixabay/Public Domain)

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has granted a request by the developer of a proposed solar farm in Shelby County for the agency to decline jurisdiction. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has primary oversight..

The FERC is responsible for the oversight of the generation and transmission of power.

New York-based Ranger Power says it plans to build the 199-megawatt solar farm on an approximately 1,000-acre site in northeastern Shelby County, with construction starting as early as 2021.

The IURC explains solar energy producers can make the request of “declination of jurisdiction” when the company intends to sell the power into the wholesale market, which is regulated at the federal level.

Indianapolis-based Wabash Valley Power Association announced in December 2018 that it would purchase 100 percent of the energy produced by the $175 million solar farm.

Ranger Power said with the power going directly to WVPA and its 19 rural electric cooperatives, and not selling the power to the general public, the IURC had reason to decline jurisdiction.

“We are focused on bringing this significant investment in clean energy to Shelby County and Indiana. We continue to work with local officials and our landowner partners as we prepare for design and construction,” said Ranger Power Chief Executive Officer Adam Cohen.

In its order, the state agency said Ranger Power has “demonstrated that it has the technical, financial, and managerial capability to construct and operate the proposed facility. It has also shown that the wholesale market for electricity in Indiana will benefit from the addition of the generating capacity…”

The company says it’s not uncommon for regulatory agencies, like the IURC, to decline jurisdiction on smaller power producers. But this is the first time the agency issued the order for a large-scale operation, according to Ranger Power.

In May, the Shelby County Development Corp. said the Speedway Solar project had received all necessary approvals from local government agencies. While the IURC may decline to fully regulate the solar company, it can still require reports about the project.

Ranger Power says it wants to have the solar farm online in 2023.

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