Solar farm coming to kokomo kp kokomoperspective.com electricity diagram flow

##

According to Duke Energy spokesman Lew Middleton, the company has signed a 20-year agreement with Inovateus to produce up to five megawatts of power annually from a solar farm. That five megawatts will power 1,000 homes annually. He acknowledged that the Kokomo solar farm will be a small part of Duke’s portfolio, but it is important.

“We are trying to provide clean and responsible energy,” said Middleton. “It is a commitment to add more ‘green’ power to our energy mix as part of a legal settlement we reached with consumer groups in August 2013 regarding our Edwardsport coal gasification power plant air permits.”

Inovateus Solar LLC formed in 2008, evolving from its green building roots. Founder Tom Kanczuzewski learned about solar technology from George Howard, Ph.D. and renewable energy pioneer Stan Ovshinsky and built the business into one of the nation’s top providers of solar energy. The company is based in South Bend, Ind.

Williams explained that the farm will produce direct current wattage, as opposed to alternating current, which means that 6.5 megawatts of energy will be produced in Kokomo annually. Inovateus does this because there are very few times that the farm will hit peak output each year.

According to city engineer Carey Stranahan, the city will lease the land to Inovateus, as it was the only company to respond to a request for proposals in December. The Kokomo Board of Works and Public Safety is expected to consider approval of the project at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Williams explained that the steel piles anchoring the solar panels will penetrate the 18-inch soil cap placed over the contaminated ground, but no soil will be removed. There will be no digging, grading, or installation of cement footers which would require exposure to the contamination.

Skeptics of solar energy might wonder why Indiana is considered a good place for a solar farm, as the state experiences fewer than 60 days of full sun each year. Williams countered that clear, sunny skies are not a necessity for a successful solar farm.

“Overall, we have four and a half sun hours per day on average,” said Williams. “We’ll produce at a point high enough to deliver energy to Duke. It’s not bad, considering that 30-40 percent of Germany’s energy is renewable, and they have about 3.7 sun hours a day. We’re sunnier than a place that has a heck of a lot of solar.

“The key is technology has improved. We’ve simplified it. It’s steel in the ground and a few silicon modules. That makes it cost-effective. And you’re pre-paying for energy for 20-30 years. The costs are up-front, but you can say the same thing about a new oil refinery. And we have no fuel costs and almost no maintenance. The combination of labor efficiency and materials at a low cost makes it work now.

Inovateus anticipates that once regulators approve the project, it will take the company three to five months to construct the solar farm. Williams said the operational target for the farm is December, but the company is confident that it could begin operations as early as October.