I&M proposes five pilot projects

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) plans to build and operate five pilot solar PV generation facilities totaling about 16MW, a move aimed at further diversification of the electric utility’s generation source mix, spokesman Tracey Warner tells Recharge.

The projects will be located in both states with the initial ones built in Indiana, where the utility is seeking regulatory authorization to build them.  I&M will own and operate them.

Warner says construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2016, with completion of all five projects later that year.

"I&M constantly looks at emerging technologies and our customers’ evolving needs, and now is the right time to move forward with solar power,” Indiana Michigan Power chief executive Paul Chodak says in a statement.

In addition to having a news clean energy source, I&M will use the pilot projects as an opportunity to study first-hand the various facets of designing, constructing and operating utility-scale solar facilities, and integrating solar energy into the grid.

Warner says the projects will cost about $38m. If approved by Indiana regulators, the projects in the state would result in a minimal impact on customer rates of less than one  percent.

I&M purchases 250MW of wind power under long-term agreements and will add another 200MW when developer EDPR completes the Heartwater project south of Fort Wayne.

I&M is a subsidiary of American Electric Power, one of the largest US electric utility holding companies based in Columbus, Ohio.