Advance solar project advances


One more box was checked Wednesday for the Indiana Municipal Power Agency solar project coming to Advance.

The Boone County Board of Zoning Appeals heard from an IMPA representative and Boone County Area Plan Commission Executive Director Rachel Cardis on the development before approving a special exception with development standard variance.

Cardis said the solar field will be in the southwest corner of a piece of town-owned property at 306 W. Wall St., Advance.

The solar panels will be in a fenced-in area near the water tower, and will be relieved from normal planting requirements, per APC staff recommendation. Cardis explained that the relief was reasonable, given that adding trees would shade the panels and reduce the amount of power that would be produced.

Adding the Advance solar park as part of the company’s greater solar initiative, said Philip Lopresto, engineering manager with IMPA. Advance will be the 18th IMPA-served community to install the panels.

The overall goal for IMPA is to have a solar installation in each of the 61 communities served by IMPA, including Lebanon and Thorntown.

The panel display will be smaller than originally planned, at 1.36 acres, but the array will still provide 75 percent of normal demand for the town.

“Due to the electrical load-size of the town, we thought a smaller size would be appropriate,” Lopresto said.

The solar field will be comprised of eight racks and 864 panels that will come together to produce 240 kilowatts of power. The power will be fed into a nearby electrical pole and be distributed to households in Advance.

Interest in the proposal brought several Advance residents to the meeting, with one coming forward to ask a question.

Teresa Pratt said she loved the idea of solar power in the community, but she was concerned about who was going to pay for it.

Lopresto said the solar field will be built, maintained and funded by IMPA, without raising rates.

“There will be no direct cost to the community, IMPA will be financing it with no increase to your electrical rates,” Lopresto said. “We are doing this to actually stabilize your electrical rates so we don’t have to purchase more power.”

Once construction starts, Lopresto said it should take around four months. If all goes as planned, the solar field will be producing power before the end of 2018.

With the BZA’s approval, the town council will next take up the lease agreement allowing IMPA to build the panels on town-owned land. Advance Town Council president Matt Johnson said the council will entertain the lease at its next meeting.

Johnson said the council is excited to be the next IMPA solar site.

“When they came to us, the council was excited and now a lot of residents are getting excited about it too,” Johnson said. “In Advance we are trying to put on a different face and grow right along with Boone County.”

Source: Lebanon Reporter,