IPL boosts renewables portfolio with more solar

Indianapolis Power & Light said a 9.6-megawatt solar farm planned northeast of Indianapolis Motor Speedway will bring to nearly 100 megawatts the amount of solar power the utility has under contract.

The project announced recently is a venture of SunWize Energy, IMS and IPL.

To put 100 megawatts into perspective, it’s about one-seventh the capacity of IPL’s Harding Street coal-fired generating plant southwest of town.

Projects previously announced are two, 10-megawatt arrays at Indianapolis International Airport, and a pair of 20-kilowatt arrays at Maple Creek Village Apartments.

IPL has more presence in wind power. President and CEO Ken Zagzebski said the utility ranks eighth in the United States in available wind capacity on a per-customer basis. Much of that wind is generated in the northern third of Indiana.

IPL, like other principally coal-powered electric utilities, is taking heat from environmental groups for health hazards such as mercury and fine particles that stream from smokestacks.

The utility plans to spend $511 million on additional scrubbers at its Indianapolis and Petersburg plants, and may convert older units to burn natural gas. The Sierra Club and Citizens Action Coalition have urged utilities to turn to renewables as well as energy-efficiency programs as an alternative to coal.•

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