Roughly 80 acres on the west edge of Logansport will soon be providing power to the city.

Tuesday night, the Logansport Utility Service Board voted 5-0 to approve a proposal from Inovateus to install solar panels on property in the 1400 block of Holland Street owned by Milt Cole and Jim Donato. Part of the property is already inside the city limits, but the additional property involved will be annexed into the city in 2020. State law prevents any annexation in years prior to a decennial Census.

Solar farms utilize a large-scale deployment of solar panels to generate renewable electricity for sale to utilities, government entities, individual customers and organizations.

Inovateus Solar, which previously installed solar panels on the former Continental Steel site in Kokomo, is working with three Logansport lenders to secure funding for the project. Its goal is to begin the project before the end of 2019 when the 30 percent solar tax credit is scheduled to expire.

Although municipalities are not eligible to apply for the 30 percent federal tax credit to their solar installations because they do not pay taxes, they can install their systems through solar financiers or third parties who will monetize the tax credit on their behalf.

“This project has been in the works for more than a year, and to the credit of the Solar Committee, LMU, the Utility Service Board and Inovateus, it has finally come to fruition,” Mayor Dave Kitchell said Tuesday night. “We anticipate this lowering the cost of electricity LMU pays already through its purchased power agreement (PPA) with Next Era, and it creates more assessed value and tax base for our city while investing in a local bank and paying dividends to local taxpayers. While this is the first solar project in Logansport history, we don’t anticipate it being the last.”

PPAs allow cities and towns to still reap the benefits from solar tax incentives. Solar energy companies finance, build, own and maintain a system on the municipal-owned site, selling the solar electricity generated back to the city at a reduced, fixed rate for an extended period of time (typically 15 to 20 years).

Plans call for LMU to purchase solar power from Inovateus, with an option to purchase the solar field or terminate the agreement after more than two decades. The utility’s existing agreement with Next Era allows LMU to purchase even more of its power from solar power built in the community.

Further, city officials have been working on plans for solar panel installation at the former Trelleborg site on the northwest side. More environmental remediation below the surface of the land is necessary before solar panels can be installed there. That property is owned by the city.

Solar power in Indiana continues to be on the rise in recent years thanks to new technological improvements and a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives — particularly the 30 percent federal tax credit for any size project.

In today’s climate of ever-tightening budgets, cities and towns across Indiana are motivated to explore a variety of options to reduce their operating costs. Increasingly, towns and cities are evaluating their publicly-owned buildings, land and parking lots in a comprehensive approach to developing solar energy locally.

In Indiana, the electric utility industry is pursuing a variety of green power initiatives to help municipalities meet their financial and renewable energy goals, including the development of renewable generation facilities, agreements to purchase renewable energy on the wholesale electric market and green power billing options for customers.

In 2018, Indiana ranked 29th among U.S. states for installed solar power. It’s estimated that 18 percent of electricity in Indiana could be provided by rooftop solar panels.
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