Indiana Michigan Power plans to build and operate five solar generation facilities, adding another emission-free source of power to the company’s 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 megawatts, producing energy equivalent to powering more than 2,500 homes for a year.
I&M’s Clean Energy Solar generation facilities will be located in different areas of the company’s service territory in the two states. Facilities are tentatively expected to be located in the Muncie-Marion area, South Bend area and in Michigan, but locations of all five facilities have yet to be finalized.
"I&M constantly looks at emerging technologies and our customers’ evolving needs, and now is the right time to move forward with solar power,” said Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power.
“With this project, I&M will further broaden the diversity of our power generation, with three sources of renewable energy – solar, wind and water,” Chodak added. “In addition, more than one-third of the power we produce comes from the emission-free Cook Nuclear Plant.”
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2016, with completion expected in in late 2016.
In addition to the new source of clean energy, I&M will use the Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project as an opportunity to study first-hand the various facets of designing, constructing and operating a utility-scale solar facility. Being owner and operator of the Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project 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,” Chodak said.
I&M recognizes that many customers have expressed a desire for access to more power produced by solar and other clean, renewable sources. The Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project will give customers the opportunity to begin buying solar power from a trusted, experienced company staffed with qualified professionals.
I&M is also seeking approval from state regulators to give customers the option of showing further support for solar power by subscribing to receive 50 kilowatt hour blocks of Solar Renewable Energy Credits through the new Green Power Program.
The estimated cost of the project is $38 million. If approved by the IURC, the project would result in a minimal impact on customer rates of less than 1 percent.
Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its 2,500 employees serve more than 582,000 customers. It 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 250 MW of purchased wind generation.
I&M is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.