Solar facility shot supplied by Indiana Michigan Power

Solar facilities such as this one contribute to Indiana Michigan Power’s emission-free electricity generation capacity mix.

Indiana Michigan Power plans to build a 20-megawatt solar generation facility in St. Joseph County with a goal of providing educational opportunities there as well as electricity.

The Fort Wayne-based subsidiary of American Electric Power is working on arrangements with the University of Notre Dame to see that educational and academic research opportunities result from the project.

“This large-scale solar project aligns with I&M’s push to diversify our generation fleet and to ensure a bright future for our customers and the communities we serve,” Toby Thomas, I&M president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

“The South Bend Solar Project would help local economic development and would give our customers an opportunity to take advantage of locally provided renewable resources.”

The university’s sustainability goals include supporting renewable energy, and the statement said 40 percent of the solar facility’s output would count toward that effort. It will generate electricity to power 2,700 homes each year.

“Notre Dame is pleased to be partnering with our local energy partner Indiana Michigan Power on this significant solar energy project,” Paul Kempf, Notre Dame’s senior director of utilities and maintenance, said in the statement.

“The university looks forward to expanding its portfolio of renewable and recoverable energy sources and achieving the positive environmental benefits this project would provide,” he said.

“It is important to us to work within our own community to create such projects that have a local impact on our environment and economy.”

The project will be constructed about 10 miles northeast of the university near the Indiana Toll Road. If it is approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, I&M expects it to be in operation by late next year.

The company currently operates four solar generation facilities with a combined power production capacity of 15 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the annual electricity needs of 2,000 homes.

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