GREENFIELD — A 17-acre solar panel farm could be constructed on the city’s west side.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency is in the process of purchasing the plot of land off Windswept Road, north of the Sawmill subdivision, from the city of Greenfield to construct a 11,030-panel solar farm.

The power agency, which provides wholesale power to the city, would pay $10,000 per acre for the land, currently an undeveloped grass lot. That agreement was recently approved by the city council. The proposal to construct a solar panel farm is slated to go before the plan commission Dec. 12 for approval, where nearby landowners will be able to address the commission and ask questions about the project.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency has constructed solar farms in 13 communities around the state, including in Pendleton, Anderson and Peru. As the agency looks for sustainable ways to provide power to the communities it serves, it’s eyeing Greenfield for its next project.

Dan Worl, manager of sustainable energy at Indiana Municipal Power Agency, told the city council recently that coal is now the most economical way to produce power, but it’s not always going to be available. To prepare for that time, the agency is looking at other options, such as solar panel and wind turbine farms.

Should the project be approved by the plan commission, the organization would return to the city council to ask for a tax break for the equipment it will construct on the land, Worl said. Details of the tax abatement request have not been released.

Beyond the tax break, the project won’t cost the city a dime, Worl said. IMPA would be responsible for construction and ongoing maintenance costs, he said.

The benefits of a solar farm in Greenfield are numerous, Worl said. First, the electricity produced here would be used locally. The city could see reduced costs on the power it purchases from the organization because electricity would be produced locally and won’t have to be transmitted from other places, Worl said. How much savings the city might see has yet to be determined, though Worl it would not be so significant that customers would see a decrease on their electricity bills.

Mike Fruth, the city’s utility director, said if the city approves the project, that move would show the rest of the state Greenfield supports finding clean ways to produce power.

“This is a green energy project,” Fruth said. “It makes a statement we’re interested in being part of that energy movement.”

The land on which the solar farm would sit was donated to the city more than a decade ago, Fruth said. The $10,000 per acre was the offer Indiana Municipal Power Agency presented the city. Officials have not determined how proceeds from the sale will be used, he said.

Once constructed, the solar farm wouldn’t be noticeable to most residents. It will rest behind a 7-foot tall fence, and the transformers installed for the project won’t make more noise than a home’s air conditioning during the summer months, Worl said.

If the project receives final approval, work to prepare the land for construction could begin before the end of the year, Worl said. Construction would take three to four months.

The city council supported the project 6-1, with councilman John Patton voting against the effort. Patton said if he had more time to consider the proposal, he likely would have supported it, but he worries about how the new presidency might impact long-term energy policy in the United States.

© 2020 Daily Reporter