Though it was a little chilly on this day in December, the sun was out and so were North Vernon representatives to cut the ribbon that officially launched the project making the city of North Vernon, Indiana the first Indiana city to be powered by solar energy.

Mayor Mike Ochs, City Council Member, Jack Kelley and representatives including Chief Michael Cole celebrated the first push on the city’s move toward solar-outside the city’s firehouse, Station 62 on December 8th. The rooftop of Station 62 is now home to PV solar panels and the house is brighter with new, energy efficient LED lighting. This is just the beginning, the city’s project will continue through 2017 and into 2018.

After more than two years of planning, the city of North Vernon has launched the project that will make it the first city in Indiana to run its city buildings on solar energy while replacing 579 street lights with brighter, more efficient LED fixtures. The city will produce its own power, and use it to control energy costs, better manage its inventory, and improve the overall quality of life for the people in their community. After collaboration with Johnson-Melloh Solutions, Indianapolis, and with financing from a local bank branch, all of this will come without raising taxes, or the need for a bond.

“Besides the long-term savings realized in energy costs, this project is expected to save North Vernon more than $600,000 on interest alone, during the term of financing which is set at 15 years. The best part of this is, the equipment necessary to produce energy has a lifespan of more than 20 years, and we were able to secure the best financing rates from our local officials at Mainsource Bank.”, said Shawn Gerkin, North Vernon City Treasurer.

Neither Jennings County nor Johnson-Melloh are strangers to the notion of solar energy and the positive impact it can have for power production and energy cost control. The Jennings County Public Library has already benefitted from rooftop solar panels. In fact, the library saved more than $43,000 in energy costs during its first year of being powered by solar energy. This was made possible through a collaborative effort with Johnson-Melloh, a 41-year strong Indiana company that not only owns and operates 9 solar plants in Indiana cities and schools, they also co-developed the 100,000 solar panels project at the Indianapolis International Airport, all while maintaining solar sites in Arizona, California, Utah, Michigan and Ohio.