Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), a utility serving more than 582,000 customers in Indiana and Michigan, has announced plans to build and operate five solar generation facilities as a pilot project. The company says this will add another emission-free source of power to its generation portfolio, which already includes nuclear, wind and hydro.
If approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project will have a combined generation capacity of about 16 MW, producing energy equivalent to powering more than 2,500 homes for a year, the utility says.
I&M's Clean Energy Solar generation facilities will be located in different areas of the company's service territory in the two states. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2016, with completion expected later that year. The utility notes the $38 million project would result in a minimal impact on customer rates of less than 1%.
‘I&M constantly looks at emerging technologies and our customers' evolving needs, and now is the right time to move forward with solar power," says Paul Chodak III, I&M's president and chief operating officer." With this project, I&M will further broaden the diversity of our power generation, with three sources of renewable energy – solar, wind and water."
Specifically, I&M operates 3,595 MW of coal-fired generation in Indiana, 2,110 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan and 22 MW of hydro generation in both states. The company also provides its customers with 250 MW of purchased wind generation.
I&M says it will also use the solar pilot project as an opportunity to study first-hand the various facets of designing, constructing and operating a utility-scale solar facility. According to the utility, being owner and operator of the solar facilities will enable I&M to become proficient in operating solar generation and integrating it reliably into the transmission grid.
"We will use the knowledge we gain from operating this pilot project to help offer customers additional safe, reliable, clean energy as we further expand solar production and examine other generation options in the future," explains Chodak.