“This has been two years in the making,” said IPL spokeswoman Brandi Davis-Handy. “We’re very excited about it.”
She said the airport project, which will come in just under 10 megawatts, is expected to be the largest airport solar array in the country.
Construction started Friday and should be finished by early fall when it will come online and begin contributing significantly to IPL’s energy generation portfolio.
The project represents a strong public, private partnership between the investor-owned utility, the airport authority and city government, Davis-Handy said.
She said the growth in solar development has been helped along by strong leadership within the city.
“It’s important to get buy-in from those government leaders,” Davis-Handy said. “The leaders in Indianapolis have really encouraged the development and use of renewable energy.”
Indiana does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard requiring major utility companies like IPL to incorporate solar, wind, biomass and other renewable sources into its mix. But IPL took the lead on doing it anyway, Davis-Handy said.
“As a company, we’ve always really strived to be a leader in terms of environmental leadership,” she said. “And it’s important to us to have a diverse resources portfolio.”
With more than 30 new solar projects in the pipeline, IPL is in shape to have more solar energy in its portfolio than any other Midwestern utility, Davis-Handy said.
The surge of new projects resulted from a generous feed in tariff introduced about two years ago. IPL discontinued the program over the summer.
Even without the generous program, IPL expects to see continuing solar development.
“We’re always looking to find the best, most efficient and cleanest options available that will contribute to a diverse energy portfolio,” Davis-Handy said.