Indianapolis International Airport solar farm awaits final approval

Original article by:ByStar reporter Julie Sickel July 20, 2012

Plans to make Indianapolis International Airport home to the largest solar farm of any airport in the country took a definitive step forward Friday morning.

The Indianapolis Airport Authority approved entry into a 30-year land lease agreement with ET Energy Solutions for a 75-acre solar farm to be located at the airport entrance.

Eric Anderson, director of properties, said there were eight firms that submitted bids during the request for proposal process that began in July 2011, and ET Energy Solutions won out.

But before the company can begin the construction process, the solar farm must gain final approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Kurt Schneider, president of ET Energy Solutions, said he expects approval to come within the next 45 days.

Eric Anderson, properties director, said the solar farm is a chance for the airport to gain extra revenue, give purpose to otherwise unusable land and make a statement about green energy.

“It is our objective, as well as others, to become more green,” Anderson said. “This is far and above a community statement, having this large solar array strategically located in a very visible area that anyone can see coming to and from the airport.”

The 52,400 solar panels would generate 17,500,000 kilowatt hours per year — enough to power 17,050 homes.

“There’s not too many times when you have a win-win-win situation,” Schneider said. “But the airport wins, jobs win and the economy wins.”

The airport will receive $315,000 in annual revenue from the land lease agreement. The solar energy produced will be sold to Indiana Power & Light through a 15-year power purchase program.

Schneider said pending a green light from the IURC, construction would begin in early winter, creating 140 temporary jobs. There will be 12 permanent positions once the solar farm is operational.

ET Energy Solutions is made up of renewable energy contractor Johnson Melloh Solutions and computer and electronic firm the Telamon Corp.

The solar farm would be a $30 million investment for the company with a 10 to 15 percent internal rate of return.

Other airports, like Denver International and Fresno, Calif., already have placed solar farms on unused land.

But Schneider said if the IAA’s solar farm grows into a second and third phase, as he anticipates it will, “No one will be able to touch us.”