Where electricity comes from is as important as how it gets to homes and businesses.
Renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, are alternative generation sources that complement existing resources, such as coal and natural gas. With the price of solar power continuing to come down, interest has risen around the United States and right here in our service territory on how to tap into this sustainable energy resource.
Over the past couple of years, members have increasingly asked us about renewable energy options. Orange County REMC provides advice and clarification on the costs and payback of such options, as well as considerations to make while going through the decision-making process on whether the project makes sense.
To learn more about the potential of this source of electricity, we are working with Hoosier Energy, our power supplier, on a project that will help provide this natural source of power to our communities.
A 1-megawatt photovoltaic solar array is being built on 10 acres just off State Road 37, south of Mitchell. Installation of the array began in March and will be completed later this summer.
The solar array is one of 10 such sites Hoosier Energy is installing throughout southern and central Indiana. Collectively, the sites represent an opportunity for Orange County REMC to obtain empirical information on how the latest solar technology can provide low-cost electricity for members.
Participating in this larger scale project helps us learn how this variable energy resource integrates onto the grid and how solar might offset the need for other, more costly energy resources during periods of high demand.
The project will also provide Orange County REMC employees with additional information to share with members. Orange County REMC will be able to give better advice to members on the operational issues, costs and benefits of solar as a renewable energy resource from what we learn with this project.
So, keep an eye out to the west as you are traveling from Mitchell to Paoli to see the progress of this new project. We will share additional updates along the way to project completion with notice of when our grid taps into the power of the sun.
MATTHEW C. DEATON is general manager/CEO of Orange County REMC.