The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana’s plan for a large solar facility at Naval Support Activity Crane. Construction on the 17-megawatt plant, which will be the second-largest solar plant in the state, is expected to begin this month.

The plant will include 76,000 solar panels. Duke Energy says the plant is expected to begin sending solar energy to the power grid by early 2017.

In January, Duke announced the plan to build the plant on 145 acres on the southeast side of the base. The IURC approval came following a settlement that was reached between Duke and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

"This helps provide our customers with a more balanced energy mix using both traditional fuel sources and renewable energy sources," said Melody Birmingham-Byrd, president of Duke Energy Indiana. "We are pleased to partner with the Navy on a project that will deliver clean energy to Indiana customers, and improved energy security for the Navy."

The plant will be the largest solar facility in the Duke Energy Indiana system. It is the second solar project the utility has built with the U.S. Navy, following the construction of a 13-megawatt plant at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. In all, Duke Energy has wind and solar facilities in 12 states.