Indiana Michigan Power generates its first solar power

deer creek solar power elp

Indiana Michigan Power has started up its first solar power plant and now is planning three more, the utility reported Tuesday.

The Deer Creek Solar Facility south of Marion, Ind., went online New Year’s Eve.

Deer Creek’s capacity is 2.5 MW and is expected to power the equivalent about 350 homes. The solar power project is the first company-owned and operated solar plant for Indiana Michigan Power and AEP.

“This is a significant milestone for Indiana Michigan Power and our customers,” Paul Chodak III, president and chief operating officer of I&M, said in a statement. “Our large-scale solar facility in Marion and the three I&M is building in the Michiana area in the coming year are an important achievement now, and they collectively mark an important first step into a future that includes more renewable solar energy for I&M customers.”

The Deer Creek solar plant is not only the first for Indiana Michigan Power, but also for its parent company, American Electric Power, a company spokesperson said. Indiana Michigan Power broke ground last fall on the Twin Branch solar facility just outside Mishawaka, Ind.

Two more facilities — near Watervliet, Mich., and New Carlisle, Ind. — will also begin generating solar energy in 2016. Combined, the four facilities will have a capacity of nearly 15 MW and produce enough energy to power 2,000 homes annually.

Indiana customers can participate in IM Solar, a program that allows them to attribute part or all of their electricity consumption to solar. Customers can subscribe to retire Renewable Energy Certificate blocks at $2.21 per month. One 50 kW block is equivalent to about 5 percent of a typical home’s electric use.

“Customers have increasingly told us they want more renewable energy, and our large-scale solar facilities will be significantly more efficient than rooftop solar,” Chodak said.

The new solar power further diversifies I&M’s generation portfolio, which also includes nuclear, hydro, coal and, through power purchase agreements, wind. About half of I&M’s generation portfolio is from non-carbon-emitting sources.

I&M 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 in Indiana, 2,160 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan and 22 MW of hydro generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 450 MW of purchased wind generation and, by the end of 2016, about 15 MW of large-scale solar generation.

AEP is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to nearly 5.4 million customers through 223,000 miles of distribution lines in 11 states.

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