The Indiana Municipal Power Agency is eyeing a 30-acre parcel of land in Tipton County for a solar field that would be operational by the second quarter of 2019 if plans move accordingly.
Currently, IMPA is seeking a 10-year tax abatement from the Tipton County Council for the project, which will interconnect with the City of Tipton’s distribution system.
Emily Williams, IMPA project manager, said current plans for the field, located on Indiana 28 just west of the 300 West intersection, include construction beginning in September or October. Construction would then go on for around eight months, and would create approximately 25 temporary, local jobs. IMPA intends to purchase the land.
Upon completion, the field would boast 19,152 panels, each of them with a tracking system allowing the panels to move east to west throughout the day, to catch as much sunlight as possible. Williams said these types of systems usually net around 3 to 5 percent more output than non-tracking systems. Each panel has around a 25-year life expectancy.
“This will certainly be a local source of renewable energy. It provides stable, low-cost power to all of IMPA’s members, including Tipton,” said Williams, who spoke during a joint meeting of the county council and board of commissioners.
The abatement IMPA is seeking would phase out 10 percent per year. IMPA is unique, Williams said, in the fact that it is both governmental and a tax-paying agency. Over the course of the 10-years, Williams said IMPA will pay a total of $143,175, and approximately $31,000 in taxes each year after that.
Tipton Municipal Utilities purchases buys power through IMPA, and the power generated through the solar fields will be directed back to Tipton.
Rex Boyer, utility manager at Tipton Municipal Utilities, said the solar energy will allow rate stability for customers moving forward.
“We’ve not had a rate increase since 2004, so we’re pretty stable, now we’re getting pretty close to the point that we need to make some adjustments. But, thanks to IMPA and their wisdom as far as being able to generate power economically, we all benefit,” he said.
The county council next will have to decide whether to grant the tax abatement. Council president Beth Roach, who also serves on the tax abatement committee, said the committee gave the abatement a favorable recommendation. Although, she noted that the project does not meet the usual standards for job creation to warrant abatement. However, she said, its uniqueness encouraged the recommendation.
Williams said IMPA has received a tax abatement for each of the 17 facilities they’ve completed thus far.