Solar finally flying at IND Solar Farm!

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The 12.5MW (DC) IND Solar Farm at the Indianapolis International Airport, the largest airport-based solar farm in the United States, has been commissioned.

 

The largest airport-based solar farm in the United States, the 12.5MW (DC) IND Solar Farm at the Indianapolis International Airport, has finally been commissioned. The solar farm consists of 44,128 panels and covers 75 acres of land. The solar facility has the capacity to generate more than 16.5 million kWh annually, enough to power over 1,800 average American homes for a year.

“This project sends a powerful message to business leaders and visitors that Indy is forwarded looking and innovative,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “When you couple this solar farm with our electric car share program, world renowned bike amenities, and SustainIndy improvements, you can clearly see that Indianapolis is taking a national leadership role in promoting alternative energy technology.”

The IND Solar Farm is already a distinguished landmark for those onlookers driving past the airport on I-70, as well as pilots and passengers as they approach and depart the airfield. “As the first and last thing many air travelers visiting our city see, the IND Solar Farm is an iconic reminder of the commitment by our airport and our region to sustainability and innovative economic development,” says Michael Wells, president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority board of directors.

“We are very happy that the solar array has started to produce clean energy and the community in whole has embraced our new pathway to the airport property,” said Kurt Schneider, Partner Vice President of Johnson Melloh Solutions. “The economic stimulus and financial expectations have surpassed our expectations, and we look forward to Indiana government advancing the community’s vision that is now a reality.”

The electricity produced by the solar farm is sold to Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL). According to an article on IndyStar, the sun-generated power will cost three to four times more than the utility can sell it for, so IPL will subsidize the difference by raising rates to its customers. The increase in electric bills to subsidize the solar farm amounts to several cents a month on the average customer bill, an official at IPL said.

The airport does receive its power from the IPL power grid, so the airport may receive a portion of power from the solar farm – albeit no differently than local homes and business will receive theirs. However, the primary benefit to the airport is the land-lease revenue on the previously undeveloped land where the solar farm now resides: the airport expects to collect land rent of approximately $315,000 per year. 

“Solar generation is an important part of our plans to balance our electricity generation portfolio,” said Kelly Huntington, IPL President.  “With the IND Solar Farm and other solar projects in process, solar and wind will represent 10% of our generation portfolio by 2017.”