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Fountain County solar project set to catch some sun

As Fountain County commissioner Tim Shumaker puts it: A new 2,000-acre solar panel array planned for the area represents a different type of agriculture.

“It’s harvesting the sun,” Shumaker says of Crossroads Solar. Once completed, this 200-megawatt solar generation facility will operate adjacent to Interstate 74 between Covington and Veedersburg.

In March, the county council formally approved the project, which Fountain County leaders have discussed since 2019 with Ranger Power, a Chicago-based company specializing in large-scale Midwest solar projects.

“Indiana already has a lot of demand for utility-scale solar power, and it’s only growing,” says Colin Snow, senior development manager with Ranger Power. “Fountain County landowners, neighbors, officials and stakeholders have all been great to work with. They’ve been very open about any concerns, and we are excited to bring this opportunity to their area.”

Snow estimates Crossroads Solar will be a $200 to $300 million investment, with a 40-year lease requiring that the land remains farmable after the project’s removal. Concrete foundations will be avoided, and local grass and pollinators will be seeded to establish vegetative cover for the life of the project, prevent erosion, improve drainage and maintain soil strength.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025, with full operations beginning 12 to 18 months later. Panels will stand about as tall as full-grown corn, and wires buried beneath them will enable current and voltage conversion — creating electricity at transmission-system levels for connection to an existing nearby Duke Energy transmission substation. (As Tipmont uses Duke Energy transmission infrastructure, it’s possible that Tipmont members could eventually receive Crossroads Solar electricity.)

Ranger estimates Crossroads Solar will remove the equivalent carbon output of 62,000 cars on the road and provide enough electricity on its own to power more than 30,000 homes.

The agreement between Ranger and Fountain County also includes a 10-year tax abatement to Ranger in exchange for a $7.8 million payment to the county five years after the array goes online.

“The county can use that for roads, county buildings or other economic development activity,” Shumaker says. “And that’s in addition to the tax revenue we’ll receive, along with the economic activity of hundreds of workers during construction.

“This project is not meant to replace traditional energy generation but to supplement it. And this represents just over 1% of the county’s tillable land. We hope it sets a precedent for future considerations of renewable energy generation projects in the area.”

Nick Rogers

Nick Rogers

Nick Rogers is Tipmont's Communication Manager. He joined Tipmont REMC in 2021. Nick has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In a previous life, he covered arts & entertainment and continues to publish film reviews. He loves movies (big shocker!) as well as rooting for the Chicago Cubs and trying new restaurants. He lives in Lafayette with his wife and dogs.

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April 2, 2024
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