Inovateus Solar is developing a landmark solar project for the people of Logansport, Indiana. For over 120 years, the city has relied on a Logansport Municipal Utility (LMU) coal-fired power plant that was recently retired. With the support and vision of the City of Logansport, this will be the first-ever solar power plant in the region, but there is much more to the project than just solar.
In addition to the 80-acre 16 MWac solar installation, Inovateus is further helping the community by designing a solar education program to engage schools in the Logansport Community School Corporation and launching a college scholarship contest for naming the solar park. To help maintain the neighborhood around the solar park, Inovateus designed a 45-foot vegetation buffer around the solar array. The buffer will feature native Northern Indiana trees, plants, and more than 100 tulip trees donated by the community.
“Inovateus is excited to be working with Alchemy to develop LMU’s first solar energy installation for the citizens and businesses of Logansport,” said Jordan Richardson, Inovateus Solar’s business development manager. “We want to thank the City of Logansport, LMU, the Logansport Utility Service Board, Alchemy, Cass County, and all the residents who helped us to design a solar system that will create local jobs and enhance the city’s natural habitats.”
The 30-year PPA, financed by Alchemy Renewable Energy, allows LMU to purchase the clean solar generation at a fixed kilowatt-hour rate with no upfront capital costs. The contract also includes options for LMU to buy the solar energy system at a future date. The prohect will stabilize energy costs for LMU’s customers, and also host a bee and butterfly habitat that will benefit agriculture in the surrounding area.
After construction is completed Q1 of 2021, Inovateus has partnered with Fresh Energy and the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund to plant a pollinator seed mix under and around the solar panels instead of traditional ground cover. Planting a pollinator mix will cultivate honeybees and butterflies that local farmers rely on for pollinating their crops. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s InSPIRE study is actively studying pollinator-friendly and low-impact solar development approaches to quantify the ecosystem and agricultural benefits.
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“Indiana is home to vibrant agricultural sectors — tomatoes in the north and melons in the south — that depend on the health and abundance of beneficial insects and pollinators,” said Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy. “Logansport’s new solar project by Inovateus shows that communities can choose PV solar designs that concurrently benefit agriculture and ecosystems.”
“We call that a winning collaboration” said Pete Berthelsen, partnership director of The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund who also partnered with Inovateus to provide the seeding mix.
To commemorate the pollinator-friendly ground cover that will eventually be planted under the solar array, The City of Logansport is intending to recognize a day in June as Bird & Pollinator-Friendly Solar Day.
— Solar Builder magazine