I&M plans solar facility near South Bend

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Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) plans to build and operate its largest solar generation facility. The proposed project would be located in St. Joseph County and have a capacity of 20 megawatts, which is enough energy to power 2,700 homes annually.

“This large-scale solar project aligns with I&M’s push to diversify our generation fleet and to ensure a bright future for our customers and the communities we serve,” Toby Thomas, I&M president and COO, said in a statement. “The South Bend Solar Project would help local economic development and would give our customers an opportunity to take advantage of locally provided renewable resources.”

I&M is also proposing to partner on the solar facility with the University of Notre Dame as both organizations commit to a sustainable future. The University of Notre Dame and I&M will work together to ensure educational opportunities and research benefits of the project are realized. Notre Dame will further its sustainability goals by supporting renewable energy based on 40 percent of the output of the solar facility.

The project would be located near the Indiana Toll Road about 10 miles northeast of the university and must be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The project is expected to be in operation by late 2020.

Fort Wayne-based I&M currently operates four emission-free solar generation facilities. Three are in Indiana — Marion, Mishawaka and New Carlisle — and one in Watervliet, Mich. The facilities generate nearly 15 megawatts of electricity, with enough energy to power 2,000 homes annually.