Lightsource bp reached commercial operation of its 152.5-MWAC/173-MWDC Bellflower Solar project, located about 40 miles east of Indianapolis in Henry and Rush Counties. Lightsource bp developed, financed and will own and operate Bellflower Solar, and has entered into a virtual power purchase agreement with communications company Verizon for the energy generated by Bellflower Solar.
“Verizon is committed to protecting our planet by supporting the production of renewable energy and the transition to a greener U.S. energy grid. The renewable energy produced by the Bellflower Solar project will help us achieve net zero operational emissions by 2035,” said James Gowen, SVP of global supply chain and sourcing and chief sustainability officer at Verizon.
Lightsource bp planted 800 acres of native plant life under and around the solar panels with which will be conserved for decades. An additional 10 acres has been dedicated to lush pollinator gardens with more than 60 different types of flowering plants.
The site is also being kept in agricultural production. A local commercial beekeeper is managing beehives and will produce honey from the solar farm, while another local farmer will graze sheep to help maintain the vegetation.
The solar farm is participating in a study which will measure the ecological benefits of pollinator habitat at utility-scale solar sites. The research team is composed of the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, the Argonne National Laborator and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“The Bellflower project is a great example of our commitment to responsible solar development in action,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas at Lightsource bp. “Beyond delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy, Lightsource bp has a deep commitment to maximizing the sustainable benefits of our solar projects for communities, protecting ecosystems and improving biodiversity.”
The Bellflower project is expected to generate $30 million in property tax revenue to Rush and Henry Counties over its operating lifetime, benefitting local schools and other community public services. Its operations budget of $2.4 million each year will be primarily spent in the region.
More than 350 people worked on-site during peak construction to build the facility. SOLV Energy was the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, which included installation of 377,000-plus solar panels manufactured by Arizona-based First Solar; along with solar trackers manufactured by New Mexico-based Array Technologies.
“Indiana is an emerging leader in the clean energy transition, and Bellflower is a prime example of how investments in solar energy are benefitting Hoosiers. Large-scale projects like Bellflower bring economic benefits to the entire community through new employment and training opportunities for residents, support for local schools and nonprofits, and income for area businesses that SOLV Energy partners with throughout construction,” said George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy
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