I&M plans four solar power plants in Indiana as part of $1 bn investment

By Editor


Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) has filed plans with Indiana state authorities for four solar power plants capable of generating power for more than 200,000 homes by mid-2026.

I&M is also seeking proposals for a combination of additional energy sources – including wind, solar, battery storage and natural gas (peaking) – to generate power for hundreds of thousands of homes by December 2027.

This is part of the Powering the Next Tomorrow Integrated Resource Plan that I&M previously submitted to regulators in Michigan and Indiana. These solar power plants and the company’s plans to add more clean-energy resources are part of I&M’s and American Electric Power’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2045.

“I&M is taking these major strides in transitioning to cleaner, more diverse energy sources to best serve our customers, the environment and the economies of the communities we serve,” said Steve Baker, I&M president and chief operating officer.

The four new solar facilities mark an important next step in I&M’s transition to a more diverse energy supply and meeting the need for new sources to energize homes and businesses as the coal-fueled units at our Rockport, Ind., generation plant phase out of service. The Rockport Plant will be fully retired by the end of 2028.

While I&M’s Cook Nuclear Plant in Michigan generates energy 24/7 as the anchor of I&M’s generation, the variety of additional energy sources strengthen I&M’s resilience.

The diversity of generation sources increases I&M’s flexibility to serve customers by having options to address future changes in regulatory policies and price volatility of energy prices for the various forms of generation.

Each of the four solar power plants will be built by private developers. I&M will invest about $1 billion in the Lake Trout and Mayapple/IN facilities, which I&M will own and operate. I&M will purchase the power generated from the independently operated Sculpin and Elkhart County solar power plants.

Plans before the two state commissions would provide I&M the ability to include 210 MW of generation capacity from an existing natural gas “peaking” plant in Wells County, near Montpelier, Ind.

I&M’s plans will require the approval of the utility regulatory commissions in both states. The four solar power plants are expected to be placed in-service delivering energy to customers over a period from late 2025 to mid-2026.

I&M issued a new RFP on March 31 seeking additional energy resources. The 2023 RFP is an “all-source” solicitation seeking proposals from various types of generation, including proposals for more solar and wind generation as well as battery storage, natural gas generation and other possible forms of generation.

Specifically, I&M is seeking proposals for:

Wind: Approximately 800 MW

Solar: Approximately 850 MW

Battery storage: Approximately 315 MW

Natural gas (peaking): Approximately 540 MW

Other: I&M is also open to other proposals that could involve emerging technologies, thermal energy or other resources.

I&M is making a portion of the Rockport Plant site available for proposals for natural gas peaking generation and battery storage projects.

Projects must be located in Indiana or Michigan, with the exception of wind projects that also have the option to be sited in Illinois or Ohio. I&M encourages the use of local goods or services from Indiana and/or Michigan businesses where feasible. Bids will be due by May 26. I&M is seeking some projects that involve power purchase agreements and others that the company will own and operate.

I&M anticipates that projects resulting from the 2023 RFP will be generating power for customers by Dec. 31, 2027, but more definitive in-service dates will be determined later in the process.

I&M’s clean-energy generation includes five solar plants; wind power from four Hoosier plants; six hydro-electric plants; and the Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, Mich. I&M’s coal-fueled plant in Rockport will be fully retired in 2028.

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