IMPA planning 3 solar parks east side of Anderson

John P. Cleary | The Herald Bulletin FILE PHOTOJack Alvey, senior vice president of generation for IMPA, answers questions from Erskine Elementary School fourth graders while giving them a tour of the Anderson 1 Solar Park in 2015.

ANDERSON — The Indiana Municipal Power Agency is planning to construct a fifth solar park in Anderson.

The Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday approved a special exception for the construction of a 6-megawatt plant on the northeast corner of Layton Road and West 32nd Street.

IMPA is purchasing the 40 acres from the Hulse family. The property is zoned for residential use.

The estimated $9.6 million project will contain 21,438 panels that will rotate and follow the sun as it moves east to west.

Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2020 and be completed by the end of the year.

IMPA also received approval from the side yard setback of 50 feet to the north and east property lines instead of the required 260 feet (20% of the lot width).

Emily Williams, project manager for IMPA, said without the variance for the 50-foot setback it would result in a 40% loss of the megawatt production.

There are plans for a screen planting along 500 feet of West 32nd Street and 265 feet along Layton Road.

Several local residents raised concerns about drainage from the site and landscaping along the north side of West 32nd Street.

Another concern raised was about the potential of pollution from the panels.

Tony Pochard, superintendent of Anderson Municipal Light & Power, said there are no liquids in the panels, which are all electronics.

He said there will be no contamination from the panels.

Williams said the existing trees on West 32nd Street will be maintained and the project will adhere with the drainage requirements of the city and Madison County.

During the development of the site, IMPA tries to avoid any existing drainage tiles on the property, Williams said.

She said the water has to remain on the site and with the planting of grass it should limit the pooling of water.

The solar park is expected to generate power to the Anderson Municipal Light & Power grid for the next 35 to 40 years.

Anderson’s power utility is a founding member of IMPA.

Earlier this year, IMPA announced plans for two solar parks on the east side of Anderson and one in Madison County. All three projects have received the necessary approvals.

Those three solar parks will generate 18 megawatts of electricity. The two city sites include approximately 99 acres and the county location includes 26 acres.

The estimated cost of the project is $25 million with construction planned to start in the second quarter of 2020 and be in operation in 2021.

Williams said IMPA has no current plans to construct another solar park in Anderson, but added that could change depending on future demand.

IMPA already has two solar parks in the city.

The first was opened on Park Road in 2015 and generates 5 megawatts of electricity; the second was opened in 2017 on Madison Avenue generating 8 megawatts of electricity.

IMPA has a 2-megawatt solar park in Pendleton and a 1-megawatt facility in Frankton.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter

@KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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