Hoosier Energy announces plan for large solar initiative

SMECO Community Solar 1On May 6 Hoosier Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative serving 18 electric distribution ­cooperatives in southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois, announced plans for a 10 MW multiple solar site initiative.

The project consists of 10 one-megawatt solar arrays to be installed across member cooperative service ­territories over the next two years. Construction of the first installation is expected to begin in New Castle, Ind. later this month. Collectively, the solar “farms” will provide ­approximately 20,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually for the 300,000 consumers served by Hoosier Energy members. The average home in Indiana uses about 1,000 kWh per month.

“Hoosier Energy is focused on providing cost-effective renewable energy for member systems,” said Steve Smith, Hoosier Energy President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our board’s foresight in embracing renewables, and members’ efforts to utilize resources in their own backyard, reflect cooperatives’ long history of bringing affordable energy to members.”

The solar program is part of Hoosier Energy’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to diversify its generation portfolio and provide the best balance for an affordable power supply. “Some of the best areas for solar are in southern Indiana and Illinois,” said Heath Norrick, Hoosier Energy Renewable Energy Manager. “On a hot, sunny day in July, solar is there when consumers need it.”

Hoosier Energy’s board of directors approved the 10 MW program last July. Member system consumers ­support the move to renewable energy. “This project will help us and member systems learn what it takes to plan, finance and implement a solar project. It’s a great opportunity to educate the public on how solar works,” Norrick added.