First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) joined Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) on Oct. 26 at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Twin Branch Solar Facility in Mishawaka, Indiana.
The 2.6-MW project is the first of three First Solar is building for I&M, an operating unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP). In addition to Twin Branch, First Solar will be building the 5-MW Olive Solar Facility in New Carlisle, Indiana, and the 4.6-MW Watervliet Solar Facility in Watervliet, Indiana, for I&M, all using First Solar’s advanced technology thin film photovoltaic modules. The three projects are expected to be in full commercial operation by the end of 2016, and will be connected to I&M’s existing distribution system.
Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power, said: “I&M and First Solar will be building cost-effective, efficient facilities that will serve customers well by further diversifying I&M’s generation with zero carbon footprint.”
“It is exciting to be working directly with one of the largest vertically integrated utilities in the U.S.,” said Eran Mahrer, First Solar’s Senior Director of Business Development – Utilities. “AEP is aggressively developing a fleet of renewable energy generation facilities in the region, and their commitment to solar power as a cornerstone of that renewable portfolio is at the forefront of a national trend.”
Mahrer noted that Twin Branch’s site location – approximately 19 acres in the heart of an industrial park – shows how utility-scale solar can be integrated into an urban commercial setting. First Solar will be working with strategic partner GEM Energy of Walbridge, Ohio, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Twin Branch. I&M will own and operate the power plant, supported by system monitoring software provided by First Solar.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology.
Indiana Michigan Power is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its 2,450 employees serve more than 589,000 customers. It operates 2,600 MW of coal-fired generation (the Rockport plant) in Indiana, 2,160 MW of nuclear in Michigan and 22 MW of hydro in both states. The company also provides its customers 450 MW of purchased wind generation and, by the end of 2016, about 15 MW of large-scale solar generation.
GEM Energy offers a wide array of services to help customers increase their energy efficiency, sustainability and energy savings. GEM Energy’s comprehensive energy services and technologies include solar development, integration of power generation, advanced heating and cooling systems, procurement and FlexSet energy monitoring/building control systems for commercial, industrial, institutional and mission-critical facilities. GEM Energy is part of the Rudolph Libbe Group.