FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Watervliet Solar Power plant is now generating energy for Indiana Michigan Power customers, becoming the fourth I&M solar plant to go online in the past year.
The solar plant, just east of Watervliet, Mich., has more than 50,000 solar panels that generate up to 4.6 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 650 homes annually. Combined with the three solar plants already online, I&M’s four plants have the capacity to generate nearly 15 megawatts of electricity – enough to power more than 2,000 homes annually. The plants were built as part of an I&M pilot project to add company-owned-and-operated solar plants to its diverse generation mix.
In addition to generating renewable green energy for customers, the four plants offer I&M the opportunity to evaluate the performance of different types of panels located in different geographic areas of its service territory. I&M, an operating unit of American Electric Power, is partnering with Electric Power Research Institute to measure the solar plants’ performance as well as studying how the power is connected to the electric grid. I&M will use the information as it expands its solar generation in the future.
“I&M is dedicated to serving customers in the ways they want to be served, and many customers have told us they want more renewable energy,” said Paul Chodak III, I&M President and Chief Operating Officer. “Solar power is good for our customers, it’s good for our company and it’s good for the environment.”
“The addition of these solar plants comes as I&M advances in its transition toward less use of coal,” Chodak added. “In fact, even before these plants came online, I&Ms’ generation last year was 60-percent emission-free.”
I&M’s first solar plant – Deer Creek, just south of Marion, Ind.– went online late last year. Two South Bend-area plants – Olive, just east of New Carlisle, and Twin Branch, just outside of Mishawaka – went online this past summer.
In addition to the solar power plants, I&M buys power from three Hoosier wind farms. I&M expects to continue adding more large-scale solar power plants and wind energy in the future. System wide, AEP plans to spend $1 billion on renewable energy generation over the next three years.