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Construction to begin on Indianapolis International Airport solar farm: Local firms will play key part in creation of one of the largest airport solar farms in North America

 

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The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) announced today that it has selected ET Energy Solutions, LLC to develop a solar farm on Indianapolis International Airport property. The company is a joint venture (JV) between three locally based firms which bid on the project: Johnson-Melloh Solutions, Schmidt Associates, and Telamon Corporation. Telamon, a Minority Business Enterprise, is 50 percent owner of the JV.

Under the terms of the agreement, ET Energy Solutions will finance, design, construct, and operate the facility on land leased from the IAA. The local group will work in conjunction with SANYO Electric Group, a global leader in solar energy technology and development, which will provide panels for the project and assist with arranging financing.

Design and utility interconnection studies are already underway, and weather permitting, construction could begin as early as fourth quarter of 2011. The solar farm, which will be one of the largest airport-based solar farms in North America, is expected to become operational starting in mid-2012. The facility will include more than 41,000 solar panels, each capable of producing 280 watts at peak power production. The panels will be installed on ground-mounted racking systems that will fill nearly 60 acres of land near the airport exit from I-70.

The solar farm is expected to annually produce more than 15 million kilowatt hours of electric energy, enough to power more than 1,200 average American homes for a year. The renewable energy it produces will prevent approximately 10,700 tons of CO2 from being released into the environment each year, which is the equivalent of removing approximately 2,000 cars from the road. To help raise awareness of solar energy, real-time output data will be available to the public.

Electricity created by the airport solar farm will be fed directly into the grid operated by the Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPL) through existing surface transmission lines that connect the airport terminal to the IPL substation west of the airport. No public funds or airport costs are anticipated to be involved in the project.

“The IND solar farm is just the latest innovation in our land-use strategy moving toward implementation,” said John D. Clark III, executive director and CEO of the IAA. “It supports our commitment to sustainability while helping to grow and diversify our revenue stream. Finding productive and harmonious uses for airport land ultimately aids our efforts to attract and maintain the air service that anchors the IND Aerotropolis and generates economic benefits throughout our region.”

An Aerotropolis is an “airport city” in which a collaborative, multimodal approach is leveraged to maximize the ability of an airport to foster economic growth and infrastructure development throughout its surrounding region. In addition to its core air transportation missions, IND Aerotropolis focuses on maximizing airport assets and possible development properties and integrating those with key economic drivers of the region.
Since both the borders and benefits of an Aerotropolis extend well beyond an airport’s property, a proactive and cooperative model is essential, and the IAA has been seeking and forging a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with key stakeholders in the airport’s neighboring communities with the goal of achieving additional strategic partnerships in the future.

"The airport serves as the gateway into Indianapolis, and this is a great way to showcase our efforts to become a more sustainable city,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. ”Installing solar panels on airport property not suitable for other development with the intent to power our city using renewable energy sources and generate revenue demonstrates the culture of innovation and commitment to sustainability that has taken root throughout Indianapolis."

“We are very impressed with the Indianapolis Airport Authority’s vision for a greener future. Our goal is to be transparent to IAA’s solar project team participating through the planning, design, construction, project oversight, and financing stages as a venture partner,” said Albert Chen, CEO of Telamon. “We are grateful for the business opportunity and with Telamon's successful history of integrating products and services to our Fortune 500 customers, we are very excited to be involved in this dynamic project.”

“Projects of this size require a lot of teamwork, and we are happy to be partnered with true professionals like IAA, Johnson Melloh Solutions, Schmidt Associates, Telamon, SANYO and Indianapolis Power and Light,” said Kurt Schneider, vice president for Johnson-Melloh. ”The IAA deserves a lot of credit for their creativity in finding ways to generate revenue from non-traditional airport revenue streams and Indianapolis Power and Light gets the credit for being a leader in Indiana utilities for offering a Feed-In-Tariff to its customers that make projects like this possible.”

“With a smaller scale solar photovoltaic (pv) installation already in operation at the Johnson-Melloh Solutions site, we internalize the tremendous environmental and financial benefits of embracing renewable energy, specifically solar photovoltaic,” added
Schneider.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to design, build, and service one of the largest airport sited solar photovoltaic projects in the United States,” said Nick Melloh, president of Johnson-Melloh Solutions. “The project is a great example of the public sector utilizing private sector investment to generate revenue. Mayor Ballard’s sustainability initiative is gaining momentum and we expect positive local impact from the IAA’s decision to work with local companies – including a substantial economic impact that will create much needed construction jobs. The decision to move this project to reality creates an opportunity for other local businesses and municipalities to take advantage of substantial downward pricing trends in high quality solar pv products and the Feed-in-Tariffs available to IPL and NIPSCO customers.”

“The ripple effect of the Airport Solar Farm will be felt across Indianapolis and throughout the state,” said Ron Fisher, Schmidt Associates’ director of operations. “We can see this project spurring new interest in renewable energy across Indiana, and even the Midwest.”

“Last Spring, the General Assembly passed legislation promoting clean energy in Indiana.  We know that we are going to need more electrical power in Indiana in the future, and a diversified electricity portfolio is one of the State’s goals,” said Wayne Schmidt, CEO of Schmidt Associates. “Renewable energy resources, like the Indianapolis Airport Solar Farm, is an important piece of the puzzle.”

“SANYO is very excited to lend its development, financial, and insurance services to the Indianapolis Airport solar project,” SANYO Solar Market Development Manager Kevin White explained. “The potential of this solar project shows that Indianapolis and Indiana are leaders in the Midwest when it comes to solar energy. And, if states and utilities develop the right programs, solar can become a sustainable source of energy for everyone. I commend all parties involved in the Airport Solar project in taking the next evolutionary step in the U.S.’s energy infrastructure.”

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