Council hears update on Duff Solar Project

The Dubois County Council heard an update on the Duff Solar Project from EDP Renewables at the regular meeting held Monday.

The Duff Solar Project will be located on land adjacent to the Duff Vectren Substation located on County Road South 650 West. To accommodate the park, EDP already has about 1,500 acres signed up to participate. However, the solar panels will only take up about 600 to 900 of those acres.

Sarah Greenberg, Development Project Manager – Eastern Region for EDP, notified the council she would be transitioning out of her role as the project development manager. The new project manager is Bridgette Chia, who is based in Chicago.

Chia told the council they had recently signed the interconnection agreement that allows the solar park to be connected to the Vectren Substation. “It’s a great milestone for the project,” she told the council, adding that the company has also contracted with an engineering firm to begin designing the site.

“So this is going to show the actual parcels involved, the location of the panels, fences and inverters,” Chia said.

This is expected to be completed later this summer.

She also updated the council on the recent passage of Senate Bill 390, which allocates additional funding to counties that become commercial solar and wind energy-ready communities through a certification process regulated through the Indiana Office of Energy Development. Counties that become certified become eligible to receive $1 per megawatt hour of electricity produced by a project if a fund is established and has funding available.

If there is funding available, the Duff Solar Project would bring the county $150,000 to $200,000 annually for ten years, starting when the project begins producing electricity. Under the Senate bill, the money is not restricted on how it can be used by the county.

Chia also informed the council EDP is seeking an off-taker — a purchaser of energy produced by a solar project– and expects to have that completed by the end of the year. “If we are able to, we would like to start construction as early as next year (2024),” she said.

Tom LoTurco, Executive Vice President of Eastern US, Canada & Government Affairs at EDP Renewables North America, noted that EDP Renewables has an advantage over other renewable power production companies entering the market since they have been in Indiana since 2006.

In 2022, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) had 120,000 megawatts of capacity for renewable power, and there were 170,000 megawatts of proposed projects, he explained.

“That was just one year. The queue is completely jammed,” LoTurco said. “We got this thing submitted back in 2019 … And that’s one of the biggest, you know, I think, really positives around this project is that we know that we can connect it to the grid.”

He also explained that EDP will be able to offer an enhanced investment tax credit for the power produced, which means the cost of the powers should be lower and, thus, more attractive for the off-taker — a utility or commercial/industrial entity.