American Electric Power’s Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) on Feb. 20 said that has received approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to build and operate a solar generation facility in the Michiana area that will have a capacity of 20 MW.
The company noted that it will collaborate on the project with the University of Notre Dame, which will promote its sustainability goals by committing to support 40% of the renewable attributes of the solar facility. I&M said that it and Notre Dame will join forces to maximize educational opportunities and research benefits from the project.
The facility will be located near the Indiana Toll Road and Bittersweet Road in St. Joseph County, the company said, adding that construction is set to begin in April and that the facility is expected to be in operation in late fall.
As noted in the commission’s order, approved on Feb. 19, I&M in June 2019 filed its application for approval of the 20-MW alternating current (MWac) solar project, known as the South Bend Solar Project, as well as for associated accounting and ratemaking relief and the sale of renewable energy credits (RECs). I&M and Notre Dame have entered into a 30-year agreement whereby I&M will designate to Notre Dame 8 MW of the renewable attributes of the project — 40% of the overall project output. In exchange, the commission added, Notre Dame will compensate I&M for the RECs associated with 40% of the output of the project.
As noted in the order, Joseph DeRuntz, project director with AEP Service Corporation, testified during the proceeding that I&M seeks approval to invest about $37m through 2020 to develop the project. The cost of the solar installation is based on a competitive procurement process, with expected issuance of a notice to proceed to the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor in April, and project construction to begin in or around May. The commission added in its order that that schedule ensures that the project will qualify for the 26% ITC available to projects that begin construction this year.