First Solar, Inc. joined Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) yesterday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Twin Branch Solar Facility in Mishawaka, Indiana. The 2.6 megawatt (MW) project is the first of three First Solar is building for I&M, an operating unit of regional power utility American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP).
“I&M is pleased to partner with First Solar in bringing emission-free, large-scale solar generation to Michiana,” said Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power. “I&M and First Solar will be building cost-effective, efficient facilities that will serve customers well by further diversifying I&M’s generation with zero carbon footprint.”
“It is exciting to be working directly with one of the largest vertically integrated utilities in the U.S.,” said Eran Mahrer, First Solar’s Senior Director of Business Development - Utilities. “AEP is aggressively developing a fleet of renewable energy generation facilities in the region, and their commitment to solar power as a cornerstone of that renewable portfolio is at the forefront of a national trend.”
Mahrer noted that Twin Branch’s site location – approximately 19 acres in the heart of an industrial park – shows how utility-scale solar can be integrated into an urban commercial setting.
In addition to Twin Branch, First Solar will be building the 5MW Olive Solar Facility in New Carlisle, Indiana and the 4.6MW Watervliet Solar Facility in Watervliet, Indiana for I&M, all using First Solar’s advanced technology thin film photovoltaic modules. The three projects are expected to be in full commercial operation by the end of 2016, and will be connected to I&M’s existing distribution system.
First Solar will be working with trusted strategic partner GEM Energy of Walbridge, Ohio, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Twin Branch. When commissioned, the power plant will generate enough energy annually to power the equivalent of 350 homes. I&M will own and operate the power plant, supported by system monitoring software provided by First Solar subsidiary skytron® energy GmbH.