ANDERSON – A Chicago-based alternative energy company is planning to construct a 120-megawatt solar farm in northern Madison County.
Invenergy is in the process of signing options to lease a minimum of 700 acres on County Road 500 West on both sides of Indiana 28 between Orestes and Elwood.
A local farmer who didn’t want to be identified said the lease payment is equal to the value of crops produced on the proposed acreage with a built-in increase of 3 percent a year.
Ben Lambrecht of Invenergy said Wednesday the company could be appearing before the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals on April 23 to request a special exception for the project.
The Lone Oak Solar Farm could produce enough electrical energy to power 35,000 homes, he said.
“Madison County presents an excellent opportunity for a solar project due to its strong solar resource, access to the existing transmission grid, and a strong interest from the community and project participants,” Lambrecht said as to why Madison County was selected for the project.
Invenergy has not determined an estimated cost of the project.
The timeline indicates development will take place until 2021 with construction starting in late 2022 or early 2023, according to Lambrecht.
The project is expected to employ up to 150 people during construction and two permanent maintenance staff.
He said negotiations are taking place with commercial sale of the electrical energy.
Rob Sparks, CEO of the Corporation for Economic Development, said they have been working with Invenergy.
“I know right now they are working with property owners to secure options on the land,” he said. “There will be a presentation made to the Madison County Council next month.
“The investment will be good for Madison County,” Sparks said.
Invenergy has been in contact with several members of the Madison County Council and is expected to request a tax abatement for the project.
When the wind farm was constructed in northern Madison County, E.On was granted a 10-year tax abatement in 2011 that saved the company an estimated $6 million in property taxes.
In exchange for the tax abatement through negotiations with Commissioner John Richwine, the wind farm developers agreed to pay the county $1.3 million for economic development projects.
Last year, the commissioners approved $360,000 for the city of Alexandria for the proposed industrial park and $1 million to the city of Elwood for a new Hinds Career Center and robotics program.
The Indiana Municipal Power Agency, often referred to as IMPA, has invested $20.5 million on two solar farms in Anderson generating 13.2 megawatts of electricity.
An 8.2-megawatt solar generating facility is on Madison Avenue north of Cross Street. Each megawatt requires four acres. The second generating 5 megawatts is located at Park Road and 60th Street.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies have developed more than 21,785 megawatts of projects that are in operation, construction or contracted, including wind, solar, and natural gas power generation and advanced energy storage projects.