ANDERSON – Construction work on a 5-megawatt solar park in the 6000 block of Park Road should begin later this month, an official with the Indiana Municipal Power Agency said.
The Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday approved a special exception for relocating the proposed solar electric generating facility from the intersection of Rangeline Road and Indiana 32 to Park Road.
BZA members also approved a variance from the hard surface driveway and two waivers so the Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) won’t have to construct sidewalks and provide cross access to other properties in the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration made the change in location necessary because of concerns that glare from the solar panels could affect pilots landing at Anderson Municipal Airport twice a year.
Tim Stires, deputy director of the Anderson Municipal Development, said the special exception meets all the requirements.
He said IMPA will construct a 7-foot chain-link fence around the site with three rows of barbed wire for security reasons.
“We’re satisfied with the proposed landscaping plan that was submitted,” Stires said.
Jack Alvey of IMPA explained the power from the solar park will go directly into the power grid used by Anderson Municipal Light & Power and all the electricity will be used in Anderson.
“This is our largest planned solar park,” he said. It is expected to provide electrical energy for 500 to 750 homes.
Alvey said IMPA provides electricity to 59 communities in Indiana and supplies 100 percent of Anderson’s power.
“This is part of our solar program to expand our renewable power supply,” he said. “In the next five to 10 years we hope to be generating 100 to 150 megawatts of power from solar panels.” [emphasis added]
The project is expected to cost $8.5 million for the 19,350 solar panels on 40 acres adjacent to a peaking power plant using fossil fuels. The peaking power plant was approved in 1980 and expanded in 2002.
“We want to invest in our member communities,” Alvey said. “This will provide a stable cost of 7 cents per kilowatt hours.”
Last year, the Anderson City Council approved a 10-year tax abatement for the proposed solar park at Rangeline Road and Ind. 32.
Alvey said then that the agency will pay $60,000 in lieu of taxes to local governmental entities once the abatement ends.
The solar park is expected to have a usable lifespan of 35 to 40 years.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.