Fort Wayne-based Indiana Michigan Power has announced plans for what it says will be its largest solar generation facility. The nearly $37 million project in St. Joseph County will have a 20-megawatt capacity, which the utility says will provide enough energy to power 2,700 homes each year.
The South Bend Solar Project will be built near the Indiana Toll Road about 10 miles from the University of Notre Dame. I&M says it is also proposing to partner with the university "to ensure educational opportunities and research benefits of the project are realized." Notre Dame says it will utilize 40 percent of the solar facility’s output.
"Notre Dame is pleased to be partnering with our local energy partner Indiana Michigan Power on this significant solar energy project,” said Paul Kempf, senior director of utilities and maintenance for Notre Dame. “The University looks forward to expanding its portfolio of renewable and recoverable energy sources and achieving the positive environmental benefits this project would provide. It is important to us to work within our own community to create such projects that have a local impact on our environment and economy."
The project still requires approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. I&M says it expects the solar facility to be in operation by late 2020.
"This large-scale solar project aligns with I&M’s push to diversify our generation fleet and to ensure a bright future for our customers and the communities we serve,” said Toby Thomas, I&M president and chief operating officer. “The South Bend Solar Project would help local economic development and would give our customers an opportunity to take advantage of locally provided renewable resources.”
It will be the fifth emission-free solar generation facility for I&M. The others are located in Marion, Mishawaka and New Carlisle, as well as one in Watervliet, Michigan.