Economic factors inspiring Indianapolis Airport solar farm

Economic factors inspiring Indianapolis Airport solar farmThe economic situation in Indianapolis is ripe for large-scale commercial solar development, and newly-formed companies are stepping up to take advantage of the local utility’s feed-in tariff.

ET Energy, a collection of three companies including Johnson-Mellow Solutions, Schmidt Associates and Telamon Corporation, are seeking approval to build a 10-megawatt solar farm on Indianapolis International Airport land.

The timing was right for a project like this, said Johnson-Melloh president Nick Melloh.

“There was the combination of a feed-in tariff from Indianapolis Power & Light for 10 to 15 years at 20 cents per kilowatt hour,” Melloh said. “Then the tax credit or grant, 100 percent depreciation on taxes in the first year, and the possibility of tax abatement.”

He said the Indianapolis utility guarantees that 20-cent-per-kilowatt-hour payment for at least 10 years and will reevaluate the payment for power from the solar farm after that. The utility is also considering a new rule that will increase the feed-in tariff guaranteed payment to 15 years instead of 10.

After that time, the worst that could happen would be a reduction in payments from that high rate of 20 cents per kilowatt hour to the wholesale rate that the utility pays to all electricity providers.

Johnson Melloh is a mechanical contractor, and this will be the company’s first foray into the world of power production and sale. The other partners in ET Energy don’t come from an energy background, either. Telamon Corporation is a non-profit that offers help in the areas of childcare, employment, housing, education and community development. Schmidt Associates is a full-service development company.

“The three firms are solidly in concert with core values of business ethics and integrity,” Melloh said. “When the company foundations are built on solid morals and ethics, everything else falls into place. We share a goal of providing a finished product with a pleased investor and happy Indianapolis Airport Authority.”

The massive 10-megawatt array that ET Energy plans to build at Indianapolis International Airport is expected to be the largest airport array in the country and will easily be the largest solar array in the state of Indiana, according to a release about the project.

It’s expected to produce enough electricity to power more than 1,200 average American homes and will prevent the release of approximately 10,700 tons of CO2 every year.