Courtesy of Jeff Routh, Times Mail – Bedford, IN
New Solar Field Under Construction South of Mitchell
If you’ve driven south along State Road 37 lately, you’ve probably noticed the solar panel field under construction just south of Mitchell.
Orange County REMC will be the beneficiary of that new solar array being installed south of White River Co-Op, between State Road 37 and Clover Lane. The field is being built by Hoosier Energy.
The local project is one of 10 solar fields being built by Hoosier Energy. It is the 10th to be completed and is slated to go online later this year. That could be as early as September, if all goes well. A dedication is tentatively planned for Sep. 14.
Construction began earlier this month and it is expected to take three months to build the array, get interconnected and connect to the grid. The total average cost for the 10 solar arrays that Hoosier Energy has built in this project is $2.5 million per array. According to Hoosier Energy, the cost of energy production in this type of array is actually cheaper than if a member was to install their own system at their own home.
The solar array is a 1 megawatt array with 4,000 solar panels and 18 inverters that convert the DC generated power into AC electricity that can be used in the home. The array will generate 2 million kilowatt hours, which is enough to power about 150 houses, according to Matt Deaton, General Manager of Orange County REMC, and information provided to the paper.
Orange County REMC has about 8,000 meters in its coverage area with about 93 percent of those being residential meters. Construction crews are currently installing more than 4,100 solar panels. Each panel weighs about 52 pounds. The panels are QCells and are engineered in Germany. The panels are being installed on vertical posts that have been driven into the ground. The vertical posts are connected with a horizontal rod to which the panels are connected. This vertical rod is motorized and the panels will be able to rotate with the movement of the sun, allowing for maximum collection.
That means the panels will be facing east in the morning and will gradually rotate toward the west as the earth rotates.
The lifespan of the array is projected at 25 years and it covers more than 8 1/2 acres.
Hoosier Energy covers most of southern Indiana, from just north of Bloomington south to the Ohio River.
In 2000, 100 percent of Hoosier Energy’s electricity was generated by burning coal. Today, only 58 percent is generated through burning coal, with an additional 37 percent generated through natural gas plants and the remaining 5 percent through renewable sources. It is projected that, by 2025, at least 10 percent will be produced through renewable sources. Renewable sources include: landfill gas, coal bed methane, hydro-electric, wind and solar energy.
By diversifying their generation methods, Hoosier Energy hopes to better control its costs for generating power and therefore stabilize the rates charged to consumers.