The Northern Indiana Public Service Co.(NIPSCO) announced plans this month for two new solar farms – including one in Henry County – that are expected to be in operation by mid-2023.

According to the energy distribution company, the Greensboro Solar project in Henry County will be “developed, constructed, owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC” and will provide 100 megawatts (MW) of solar, along with 30 MW of battery storage. The project will include an estimated 329,500 solar panels. NIPSCO will purchase the power directly from Greensboro Solar.

For comparison, Henry County REMC operates a 1-megawatt solar field along Interstate 70, just east of Exit 123. The Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) has a 0.53-megawatt, 1,983-panel solar array on the north side of Spiceland.

The Henry County Recorder’s office has a lease from 2018 for “a solar-powered electrical power generation and transmission project” west of New Castle.

The lease is between Boulevard Associates, LLC and trustees of the Neil A. Armstrong and Teresa A. Armstrong Joint Revocable Trust and the Craig L. Armstrong and Marti. L. Armstrong Joint Revocable Trust.

The lease is for at least 220 acres of land just outside the southwest boundary of New Castle city limits. The Solar Lease and Easement Agreement is for 30 years, with the option for Boulevard Associates to extend the agreement for two consecutive five-year terms.

As of 2017, Boulevard Associates, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, was affiliated with NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.

Under the lease, Boulevard Associates have “the right and privilege to use, maintain and capture the free and unobstructed sunlight over and across the owner’s property.”

As of Monday, Boulevard Associates had not filed any applications with the Henry County Planning Commission to build a solar farm in Henry County. The Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is also not involved with the project.

The planning commission has a listening session at 5 p.m. today in the courthouse about Henry County’s draft solar ordinance. The draft ordinance can be read online at http://www.henryco.net/attachments/Henry%20County%20Draft%20Solar%20Ordinance.pdf

NIPSCO’s other solar farm announced July 17 was Brickyard Solar, a 200 MW solar project, to be developed, constructed, owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC and located in Boone County. The project will include an estimated 675,000 solar panels.

NIPSCO announced it had finalized two 20-year purchase power agreements (PPAs) with subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, for the electricity generated by these latest solar projects. The new solar fields are expected to be in operation by mid-2023.

The two projects were selected following a comprehensive review of bids submitted through the all source Request for Proposal (RFP) process that NIPSCO underwent in late 2019 – which continues to affirm the conclusions of the 2018 NIPSCO Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), that wind and solar resources were shown to be lower cost options for customers compared to other energy resource options.

NIPSCO has requested the addition of these new projects to its supply portfolio in filings with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“Renewable energy technology continues to advance and it plays an essential role in our progression toward providing lower-cost energy resources, while maintaining the reliability our customers expect,” said Mike Hooper, NIPSCO president. “This latest addition is another exciting step forward for our customers and the state of Indiana as we look toward the future.”

NIPSCO plans to be coal-free by 2028, and the company is adding a combination of renewable energy sources including wind, solar and battery storage technology to its existing natural gas generation resources. Several Indiana-based wind projects have previously been announced and construction activity is underway.

“We are pleased to work with our partners at NIPSCO to bring low-cost, renewable energy to customers and economic growth to the state of Indiana,” said Matt Handel, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. “These two solar projects will provide exciting new job opportunities, economic growth and clean, homegrown electricity in Indiana for decades to come.”