Another massive solar project proposed in Indiana


Another massive solar project could be making its way to Indiana, as officials in St. Joseph County, home to South Bend and Notre Dame, are working with renewable energy company RES to advance the “Project Honeysuckle” solar farm on up to 1,900 acres.

Honeysuckle, if completed, would be a 150 MW installation, among the largest of the projects being announced seemingly weekly, as Indiana ups its solar commitment.

According to an official with RES, Honeysuckle solar farm has been in the works for more than a year; the company looks to begin construction next year and finish in 2023. The farm would create a maximum of three permanent full-time jobs.

The dates could be pushed back, however, as RES  has yet to find a buyer and an electrical off-taker for the planned installation.

A larger issue facing the project could come from tension over the new tax-increment financing district, or TIF, that would be created for the project.

When a local government creates a TIF, the base property value within the district is locked, even before the creation of the district. From that point on, any new taxes on increased value in the district go directly to the city or county redevelopment commission.

In this instance, the money raised by the TIF would go toward paying back RES for some or all of the property taxes the company pays on the project.

A changing Indiana

Indiana, a state historically committed to the fossil fuel industry, has seen a solar renaissance, especially at the utility-level in the last several years. In March, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) signed a build-transfer agreement for the 200 MW Elliot Solar project, set to be built in the southwestern part of the state with Capital Dynamics.

Later, the utility company announced 900 MW of solar across three projects: the 200 MW Cavalry Solar project, paired with 60 MW of energy storage; the 265 MW Dunns Bridge Solar I project; and the 435 MW of solar and 75 MW of battery storage Dunns Bridge Solar II project.

NIPSCO also signed a long-term power purchase agreement for 280 MW of the power generated by Capital Dynamics’ upcoming Gibson Solar project and a build & transfer agreement for the 200 MW Indiana Crossroads Solar Park .

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