Indiana Strong: Solar Energy Soaring Across Heartland

January 19, 2022

Above, in his State of the State address, last week, Indiana Governor, Republican Eric Holcomb highlighted some ambitious solar energy development in his state.

The Fossil fuel industry’s usual suspects continue to mount pushback against clean energy development, and sometimes they succeed in blocking this or that project – but clean energy continues to make inroads because as more and more communities host wind turbines, and increasingly solar development, and big fossil’s misinformation is shown to be just that, the good word is getting. out.

Kankakee Valley Post News:

PULASKI COUNTY — Doral Renewables LC held a groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of a massive solar project in Starke and Pulaski counties.

Gov. Eric Holcomb was on hand for the ceremony, which was held at the Melody Drive-in in Knox. The drive-in is located adjacent to ground to be used for the project.

When complete, the project will cover 13,000 acres of land in Starke and Pulaski counties and will become the largest solar farm in the US. The first phase, known as Mammoth Solar 1, is expected to be completed by the summer of 2023.

Mammoth Solar will be able to produce 1.3 gigawatts of clean energy once operational. It will bring 500 construction jobs and an investment of $475 million.

All three phases of the project will represent a $1.5 billion investment in Indiana when complete. Ohio-based AEP Energy has already inked power purchase agreements for the first and second phases of the project.

Doral Renewables is based in Israel. Also on hand for last week’s groundbreaking were Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, Yinam Cohen, and Israeli Ambassador to the United State, Gilad Erdan.

CleanTechnica:

Many US states have grabbed the renewable energy ball and run with it, politics or no politics. Clean power became a dirty word in some circles during the Obama administration, but that didn’t stop “red” states like Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma from surging to the top of the wind power list.

Similarly, Texas, Florida and Georgia have nailed their spots among the top 10 states for solar power. However, the US south is still peppered with states that have yet to ramp up their PV profiles, including Louisiana, Alabama, and Kentucky.

According to the latest rankings from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Louisiana is stuck in the doldrums. The Pelican State drifted down to #38 for installed solar capacity in 2021 after pulling off a #30 slot in 2020. The same goes for Kentucky, which bounced down from #45 in 2020 to #47 this year.

Alabama did relatively well. It ranked a lowly #50 in 2020 and climbed to #28 last year in an impressive year-over-year leap.

We’re zeroing in on these three states because they illustrate an emerging strategy among legacy oil and gas firms that are seeking wind and solar power opportunities. States with friendly renewable energy policies were the low hanging fruit and are already overrun with solar developers. It seems that attention is now turning to states where unfriendly policies forced renewable energy development to lag. Once the policy dam breaks open, new opportunities abound.

That’s where Lightsource bp comes into the picture. BP acquired the leading solar developer Lightsource in 2017 as part of a rebranding effort. Lightsource bp has been very active in the US since then, and it has been turning its financial firepower onto solar-deprived states.

In the latest development on that score, earlier this week Lightsource bp announced the successful closing of a $533 million financing package. Part of the funds will go to construct the largest solar array in Louisiana to date, the 345 megawatt (dc) Ventress Solar project, about 30 miles out from Baton Rouge.

“Lightsource bp will build, own and operate the facility and sell the clean, renewable energy it generates to McDonald’s Corporation and eBay Inc. under long-term power purchase agreements,” Lightsource bp explains, which is particularly interesting because it hints at the role that global corporations can play in pushing the solar power envelope onto reluctant state policy makers.

Lightsource bp hammered home the point, citing Emma Cox, who holds the position of Global Renewable Energy Lead at McDonald’s.

“This unique partnership between Lightsource bp, eBay and McDonald’s is an example of how large brands can come together to drive meaningful impact at a local level,” Cox said.

Further supporting the idea that the solar wall is crumbling in Louisiana, Lightsource bp also notes that the 9-parish Baton Rouge Area Chamber economic development agency has calculated that the project will provide for an indirect economic impact of more than $200 million, on top of a $30 million direct boost to the economy of Pointe Coupee Parish.

2 Responses to “Indiana Strong: Solar Energy Soaring Across Heartland”

  1. jmmirsky Says:

    Hopefully the 13,000 acres solar farm will serve double-duty as a pollinator habitat or for non-traditional farming, as this article indicates is being investigated: https://grist.org/energy/the-countrys-biggest-solar-farm-is-coming-to-one-of-the-coal-friendliest-states/.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      “Cohen told Grist that Doral Renewables is working on strategies so that farmers can lease their land while still farming on it. Instead of soybeans and corn, farmers will likely grow blueberries and other orchard crops, he said. There’s also the possibility of sheep that graze underneath the panels. “

      I see those big, bare, roastingly-hot cattle pastures in SW Louisiana and think how much the cattle would appreciate having some shade.


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