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December 5, 2017
Paul Gipe

Indiana Municipal Power Agency's Frankton Solar Plant

You know solar photovoltaics (PV) has become mainstream when you can find a solar power plant in Frankton, Indiana.

Yes, that Indiana. Mike Pence's old stomping grounds. The state where 90% of the electricity is generated by burning coal and the remainder comes from nuclear power.

It was a shock a few years ago when I found a 100 MW wind farm visible from my mom's place. See Hometown Wind Farm A Wildcat. I didn't expect to see any solar projects in central Indiana for quite some time.

Still, there it was, just a few miles down the road from my hometown of Alexandria, Indiana--the gas boom town "not on the Nile but just as worthwhile."

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency has been operating the 1 MW project in the small rural town for several years. The plant serves the local municipal utility.

On a visit over the holidays in 2016 I'd seen an article in the local paper about a much larger project serving the municipal utility of Anderson, Indiana. The 5 MW project was well into construction when I visited it.

Though the project, large by Hoosier standards, pales in comparison to the mammoth projects near where I now live in Bakersfield, California, it's significant that it was being built in Indiana where the state has no renewable energy policy to speak of and a visceral aversion to any proposal to do so.

Nevertheless, the Indiana Municipal Power Agency generates more than six million kWh per year from solar or 5.4% of its electricity from several power plants in its service area. The remainder is from nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Will wonders never cease?

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