ANDERSON – Anderson's second solar park is slated for construction this year after the Indiana Municipal Power Agency was granted a special zoning exception by the city. IMPA is investing $12 million to install 30,000 solar panels.
The Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the request last week for the special exception and variances to the setback requirements. No one spoke against the request.
In January, the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special exception for the development of an 8.2-megawatt solar generating facility on Madison Avenue, north of Cross Street. Each megawatt requires four acres.
The proposed solar park will cover 60 acres with 27 acres located in the county and 33 acres in the Anderson city limits.
Jack Alvery, senior vice president of generation for IMPA, said IMPA’s two largest solar parks will be located in Anderson. Its 5-megawatt solar park, at Park Road and 60th Street, went online in January. IMPA currently has 12 other sites online in the state.
The agency hadn't initially planned a second solar park in Anderson. Alvery said.
“The land presented itself to us unexpectedly,” he said. “Anderson is our largest customer.”
He explained that approximately 20 of the 60 acres at the Madison Avenue site can’t be developed because existing wetlands.
The solar park will take an estimated four months to construct and should be generating electricity by the fourth quarter of 2017, he said.
Alvery said the solar panels will track the sun from east to west to maximize the generating of electricity.
“The power will be distributed to the Anderson grid system,” he said. “This is a stable source of power and there are no fuel costs."
Alvery said in January that IMPA will be requesting tax abatements from county and city officials on the equipment.
Initially, Anderson's first solar park was planned for the northeast corner of Rangeline Road and Indiana 32 but was relocated to Park Road and 60th Street when the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns that glare from the solar panels could affect pilots landing at Anderson Municipal Airport twice a year.
The Park Road project cost an estimated $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.
In 2015, Anderson City Council approved a 10-year tax abatement for the Park Road solar park.
Alvery said then that the agency will pay $60,000 in lieu of taxes to local governmental entities once the abatement ends.
Both solar parks are expected to have a usable lifespan of 35 to 40 years.