Indiana Michigan Power to dip its toes in the solar waters

The Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) on July 7 petitioned the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for approval of a Clean Energy Solar Pilot Project (CESPP).

It also wants: the commission to decline jurisdiction or issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the CESPP; associated accounting and ratemaking relief; approval of a Solar Power Rider to provide for timely recovery of the CESPP costs; and for approval of a Green Power Rider to provide an opportunity for customers to voluntarily support solar projects.

I&M requests approval to construct, own and operate up to five separate utility-scale solar facilities totaling approximately 16 MW, with each facility sized in the range of 1 MW to 5 MW. Four of the solar facilities would be directly interconnected to the PJM Interconnection system and would be required to follow all associated PJM interconnection and operational rules. The fifth facility (1 MW) will be directly connected to I&M’s distribution system.

“Location of four of the five potential sites for the CESPP within the area I&M serves in Indiana and the remaining site in Michigan provides a ‘home grown’ solar energy resource,” the utility noted. “The CESPP also provide additional benefits, including the creation of jobs, tax revenue and economic development.”

The experience and knowledge gained as a result of the CESPP will be of significant benefit as the company expands its solar generation portfolio as outlined in its November 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the company wrote.

Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power, testified: “Overall, I&M seeks approval to invest approximately $38 million through 2016 to develop approximately 16 MW of solar generation capacity. The actual cost of the solar installations will be based on a competitive procurement process  and vary somewhat with the size and location of system facilities. I&M expects to acquire the equipment and begin installation of the solar projects beginning in 2016. I&M intends to have the CESPP in commercial operation no later than December 31, 2016 so that the pricing will benefit from the higher level of federal investment tax credit available through that date.”

Joseph Karrasch, Manager-Asset Investments/Renewables at American Electric Power Service Corp., noted that Indiana Michigan already has four renewable energy power contracts, for a total of 450 MW, with these projects: Fowler Ridge I (100 MW); Fowler Ridge II (50 MW); Wildcat Wind Farm (100 MW); and Headwaters Wind Farm (200 MW).

Karrasch said the solar project’s five facilities will be designed and constructed by one or more qualified third party turn-key contractors via a competitive RFP. The RFP will be issued in the second quarter of 2015. Qualified bidders will be required to show that they have successfully completed the engineering, equipment procurement, construction, and commissioning of at least one grid connected utility scale solar energy project (1 MW or greater), and have also completed a total of 10 MW of solar energy projects in the United States. Qualified bidders will also be required to document their financial and technical capabilities.

The five projects are, with the first four already having PJM queue requests for them in place, are:

  • Watervleit, Berrien County, Mich., 4.6 MW;
  • Olive, St. Joseph County, Ind., 5 MW;
  • Deer Creek, Grant County, Ind., 2.5 MW;
  • Twin Branch, St. Joseph County, Ind., 2.6 MW; and
  • To be determined, located in Indiana in I&M interconnect territory, 1 MW.

An AEP contact on this is: Matthew Satterwhite, American Electric Power Service Corp., 1 Riverside Plaza, 29th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215, Phone: (614) 716-1915, Fax: (614) 716-2950, Email: mjsatterwhite@aep.com.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.