A new solar farm is up and running near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IMS owns the property and officials say the project is a way to push the state in a new energy direction.
The farm has 40,000 solar panels and is located near a residential neighborhood just northeast of the Speedway. The land was underutilized, nothing more than some underbrush, and had fallen victim to vandalism.
IMS President Doug Boles says converting the space to a solar farm offers new opportunities for the neighborhood, city and state.
"From the Indianapolis Motor Speedway standpoint, what is does is sets a message that we need to start exploring other opportunities in terms of energy production and the way we send energy to the grid," he said. "In fact, some of our folks flew in from the Houston race this past weekend and noticed how big it is here. So, that's going to be a reminder to folks that we need to start thinking of different ways to present energy to the grid."
Boles adds that the farm also is part of the Speedway’s goal of focusing on alternative energy sources.
"We started several years ago when we brought ethanol in as our fuel for the IndyCar series," said Boles. "Even NASCAR runs their E-85 now. So, as you start looking at racing in general there are ways, even with respect to our on track product, it makes sense."
"We will continue to do that not only on the track, but in ways we can get involved off the track," he added.
The energy from the 68-acre farm will go to Indianapolis Power and Light Company’s grid and is expected to generate more than nine megawatts of power.
IPL spokesperson Brandi Davis-Handy says adding solar projects is part of the organization’s long-term strategy. But, adds that as the company diversifies it energy portfolio, customers will pay more.
"In terms of how we go about generating electricity, whether its coal, natural gas, solar, or wind, all of that is paid through our customers' rates," she said.
About 2,700 homes are expected to benefit from the energy that comes from the plant.