ANDERSON — The Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals has approved the first of three new solar parks by the Indiana Municipal Power Agency.

The Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a special use for the 26-acre site, located outside Anderson between Rangeline Road and Indiana 67.

IMPA is a wholesale electric power provider serving 61 cities and towns in Indiana and Ohio. Anderson Municipal Light & Power is a founding member of IMPA. 

IMPA's special use requests for two additional facilities will be considered by the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals at 4 p.m. July 3. The two city sites include approximately 99 acres.

The electricity generated is utilized in Anderson.

There are already two solar parks located in the city. The first was opened in 2015 on Park Road and generates 5 megawatts of electricity; the second was opened in 2017 on Madison Avenue generating 8 megawatts of electricity.

The Anderson City Council approved 10-year tax abatements for the earlier projects. The company invested approximately $21 million on those projects.

IMPA has 31 solar parks in Indiana including a 2-megawatt park in Pendleton and a 1-megawatt facility in Frankton.

IMPA has contracted to purchase the properties from Elda Corp. and V&M Cook Holdings in the 2900 block of 38th Street and the 3400 block of Rangeline Road in the city limits, along with the 26 acres in the county between Rangeline Road and Indiana 67.

Jack Alvey, executive vice president of IMPA, said in an email the three solar parks will generate 18 megawatts of electricity.

The project's estimated cost is $25 million with construction expected to start in the second quarter of 2020 and be in operation in 2021.

The county development has to include a setback of 140 feet from the center of the roads.

IMPA is requesting special exceptions and variances with the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals on both city parcels. The variances requested are not to require a hard surface drive and relief from screen planting requirements. IMPA is also requesting a waiver from the sidewalk and cross access requirements.

IMPA filed its request with the Madison County Plan Commission before the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider a six-month moratorium on new solar park developments in the county on Friday. 

The county’s BZA could make a recommendation to the Madison County Board of Commissioners to impose the moratorium so the county’s solar energy ordinance can be reviewed and potentially amended, particularly as it pertains to setbacks from nonparticipating residential properties.

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