IMPA plans solar park in Advance


Pending approval by the Boone County Board of Zoning Appeals, Advance will be home to a 2.13-acre solar park.

The BZA will consider issuing a special exception and development standard variance for the proposed solar energy development at its Wednesday meeting.

The solar field is being proposed in the community by the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, in collaboration with town officials.

The solar field will be comprised of 10 fixed-axis panels on 2.13 acres of town-owned land at 306 W. Wall St. The panels will be in the inner portion of a nine-acre parcel and surrounded with a tree and bush buffer and a fence.

Advance Town Councilman Jim Caldwell said the parcel is already used by Advance Utilities and houses the town’s water tower. He said the council and town attorney are still working out the details on a tax abatement and lease agreement for the land.

The property is zoned for general agricultural use. The staff report prepared by Boone County Area Plan is favorable, finding no part of the proposal that would not meet standards.

According to IMPA’s website, the Advance park will be the 17th solar installation for IMPA member communities. Nearby cities and towns with IMPA solar parks include Crawfordsville, Waynetown, Bainbridge, Anderson and Greenfield.

The panels will create electricity that will produce enough power to handle the normal power demand of Advance households, or 200 kilowatts. During peak demand times and cloudy days, the town will still BUY power from IMPA to meet demands.

“It is set up so the electricity is used by the town,” Caldwell said. “When the sun is shining outside, it will supplement the power that is purchased from IMPA.”

Caldwell said the electricity produced locally will cost slightly less, since the electricity will not be subject to transfer fees accrued from acquiring the power from outside of the community. All savings realized from solar project will be invested back into the electrical infrastructure, Caldwell said.

The new solar partnership is an extension of the good relationship between IMPA and Advance Utilities. Another example is the utility maintenance partnership, in which IMPA provides contractors to the town instead of the town directly employing utility staff. Clerk-Treasurer Shari Johnson said the contract saves the town thousands of dollars, instead of paying salaries and benefits, a single $4,187 payment is made per the contract.

Similar to the contract, Caldwell said IMPA will handle the maintenance of the solar panels and the grounds on which with the panels will sit.

Letters about the solar project have been sent out by Boone County Area Plan Commission to all residents who live near the solar project. However, since the letter is leaving questions for a lot of residents, Caldwell said residents can call town hall for more information.

“Once you tell them what this really is, they are OK with it,” Caldwell said.

Anyone with questions on the project may attend the meeting Wednesday or contact town government at 765-676-6611.

The meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Connie Lamar Meeting Room in the Boone County Annex at 116 W. Washington St., Lebanon.

Source: Lebanon Reporter,