FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) — State regulators have approved a deal by utility AES Indiana to build a sprawling solar farm in central Indiana that could generate enough electricity to power more than 30,000 homes.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved the project, which will stretch across nearly 1,800 acres in Clinton County, in an area about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
The project, called Hardy Hills, will include 581,594 solar panels and generate 195 megawatts of electricity, making it one of Indiana's largest solar farms, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
AES Indiana, formerly known as Indianapolis Power & Light Co., said it will pass along the project's costs to its residential customers, who would see a “slight increase” in rates.
The utility, which provides electricity to more than 500,000 central Indiana customers, is buying the project from Chicago-based Invenergy for an undisclosed price. Invenergy will develop and manage the farm's construction.
Work is expected to begin this fall, with the project reaching commercial operation in 2023.
The solar farm represents the latest big move into solar power by an Indiana utility. In recent years, utilities have begun developing thousands of acres of farmland for massive solar farms as they shift away from coal-fired plants and into renewable and other cleaner forms of energy.
In all, at least 15 Indiana solar farms of 1,000 acres or more are slated to go online by 2024, with several more in various stages of development.
AES Indiana provides electricity to more than 500,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in central Indiana.