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    Solar company plans 200MW solar farm near Greentown


    May 23, 2022 - Tyler Juranovich, Kokomo Tribune, Ind.

     

      May 23—Chicago-based solar energy development company Ranger Power has its eye set on nearly 2,000 acres east of the town of Greentown for a solar farm. This is the second such company hoping to turn agriculture land in the eastern part of Howard County into solar energy harvesters.

      While news that Ranger Power had plans to build a solar farm in Howard County was initially reported by the Tribune in February 2020, the company acknowledged the project for the first time publicly earlier this week, launching both a Facebook page and website for the proposed solar farm, dubbed Locomotive Solar.

      Exact details, such as a map of the project area and estimated economic impact, are unclear and not addressed on the Facebook page or website. However, the website describes the Duke Energy Greentown substation as being "adjacent," suggesting that the solar farm will be in the land around the substation, which is located on County Road South 1100 East just east of Greentown.

      Some project details, though, are described, including that the solar farm will be up to 1,700 acres in total area, though solar panels will cover about a third of that, with native grasses and pollinators occupying space among and around the solar panels.

      Other details of the project include:

      * The solar panels will, at their tallest, be as high as a stalk of corn and no more than 20 feet, with panels rotating constantly throughout the day as they track the sun.

      * Solar arrays, in accordance with Howard County's recently passed solar ordinance, will be set back at least 300 feet from neighboring residences and other substantial structures and at least 100 feet from non-participating landowners' property lines.

      * Fencing will be placed around the solar arrays and will be "consistent with a rural setting" and will not be barbed wire or chain-link.

      * Ranger Power expects the project will last 30-35 years and will be decommissioned afterward. The land can then be used again for agriculture if the owners so choose, according to the company.

      * The company will seek good neighbor agreements with those affected by the project.

      * The company expects the energy to be sold locally in Indiana.

      A press release from Ranger Power sent to the Tribune last week also says an economic impact study is underway. The solar farm will generate 200 megawatts a year, according to the company.

      "The Locomotive Solar team is dedicated to making project information freely available and to giving residents of Howard County opportunities to learn more about the project and its many benefits," Colin Snow, senior development manager for Ranger Power, said in a statement. "We believe in a community-first approach of sharing information, listening, and adapting all of which helps build a project that communities can support."

      The company hasn't yet applied for a special exemption permit, per the Kokomo-Howard County Plan Commission office, though that is expected to happen at a later date.

      The Howard County Board of Zoning Appeals will decide whether or not the solar company will receive the special exemption permit. If it does, it will also need to receive other governmental approvals, such as drainage, stormwater, economic development agreement approval and more before construction can begin.

      In addition to the project website and Facebook page, Ranger Power has established an office at Inventrek Park, 700 E. Firmin St., Kokomo, and an email address, info-locomotive@RangerPower.com, to give the public the oppurtunity to ask questions. Those interested in an in-person meeting can call 765-614-6006 to schedule an appointment.

      The Locomotive Solar project is the second proposed for the Greentown area in as many years.

      ENGIE, a French multinational utility company, is proposing a similar sized project farm just southeast of Greentown near the substation. The proposed project calls for a total project area of 1,874 acres of land — though the company says the total area within the project's fence will be less than 1,300 acres — and is projected to generate 200 megawatts of electricity a year.

      The company's initial special exemption request was denied last August by the Howard County BZA after pushback from property owners in the area.

      ENGIE reapplied for the special exemption permit in March. Their request was originally reported to go in front of the BZA this month, but that has since changed to 5:30 p.m. July 26 at the Central Middle School auditorium.

      Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.

      ___

      (c)2022 the Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Ind.)

      Visit the Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Ind.) at www.kokomotribune.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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