The autumn afternoon sun is providing more light to some Hoosiers than ever before – by electrifying the lights and appliances in their homes.
In a significant stride towards renewable energy, Hendricks Power Cooperative now boasts Indiana’s largest solar project developed by an electric cooperative. Hendricks Power partnered with renewable energy developer Solential Energy on the new 7-megawatt solar array, located southwest of Brownsburg, Indiana. The array spans nearly 50 acres and features more than 19,000 solar panels generating electricity since going online in mid-August. Solential Energy designed, engineered and constructed the project with Hendricks Power entering a 25-year contract to buy the electricity generated by the array. It is the largest solar project developed by any of Indiana’s more than 35 electric cooperatives, said Hendricks Power CEO Greg Ternet.
“Our members can see that we have increased our renewable portfolio and are committed to sustainability and reducing our environmental footprint,” Ternet said. “They can be proud of our efforts to develop this array within our service territory to generate clean solar power.”
This isn’t the first time the two organizations have collaborated. Hendricks Power previously partnered with Solential Energy on the operations of the solar array in front of Hendricks Power’s office building. That array is one of eight generating electricity in Co-op Solar, a community solar program. The program was created by Wabash Valley Power Alliance, a generation and transmission cooperative, and its 23-member electric distribution cooperatives, including Hendricks Power.
“We have a long history of working with Wabash Valley Power and their members,” said Jim Shaw, president of Solential Energy. “We were trying to get a good value in size and price for Hendricks Power in the new array.”
The company sought potential sites before settling on the current location, which is ideally situated near existing electrical infrastructure. This strategic choice allowed for an even more expansive array than initially planned.
“It was like a perfect storm,” Shaw said of the site’s ideal nature. “It was a perfect location for the array.”
The new solar array’s energy production can lower Hendricks Power’s demand costs, said Mike Good, director of engineering for Hendricks Power. Solar arrays typically produce electricity during the afternoon when energy demand is highest. The electricity produced during times of high demand is frequently more expensive than in times of lower demand; the electricity generated by the solar array can potentially lower Hendricks Power’s peak demand.
“The timing has been good. It’s hit our peak demand window and reduced our demand costs by tens of thousands of dollars already,” Good said. “We’re reaping the benefits.”
Hendricks Power leaders are considering future options for the solar array, including selling the renewable energy credits for businesses to support renewable energy generation.
“We are using the array to generate clean solar to power local homes, farms and businesses,” Ternet said. “Hendricks Power will continue to seek ways to keep energy affordable and sustainable.”