Public workshop on solar farm coming April 15

There will be a public open house to learn more about the Brickyard Solar farm project north of Zionsville from 4-8 p.m. April 15 at the Witham Pavilion at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

The first chance for residents and citizens to get a look at the plans for the proposed Brickyard Solar project straddling U.S. 421 will be next Thursday.

The booth-to-booth event will be from 4-8 p.m. April 15 at the Witham Pavilion Exhibition Hall on the grounds of the Boone County Fairgrounds, 1300 E. County Road 100 S., Lebanon.

NextEra Energy Resources, the developers of the project will be on hand as well as subject matter experts in a booth-to-booth format, county area plan commission director Rachel Cardis said. COVID protocols observed are masks and social distancing. She said residents will be able to see how the panels work.

“NextEra’s got newer technology for solar panels that’s more efficient and produces more energy,” Cardis said. “I just want people to learn about what it’s going to look like.”

The public will have an opportunity to speak at the open house.

The project will span between 1,000 to 1,400 acres hosting 675,000 panels which will track the sun. It will generate 200 megawatts of power contracted to NIPSCO, the electric utility based in Merrillville.

It’s a $200 million investment and will generate more than $25 million in taxes for Boone County and Zionsville. It is split between Marion and Union townships and must be approved by both local planning commissions. In rural Zionsville, the project will consist of 786 fenced acres, 235 will be under panels. In Marion Township only 386 acres will be needed with 117 under panels.

The project is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for both Zionsville and Boone County.

“Within Marion Township taxing district, the project would generate between $12.5 to $14.5 million in tax revenue over the 30-year life of the project,” NextEra spokesman Conlan Kennedy said. “Within Union or Zionsville Rural taxing district, the project would generate between $30.5 to $35.3 million in tax revenue over the 30-year life of the project.”

The Marion Township portion must be approved by the Boone County Area Plan Commission, while the Union Township portion is regulated by Zionsville, Kennedy said.

“We are currently working to complete our filings with Boone County and the Town of Zionsville permitting jurisdictions,” Kennedy added. “Public hearing dates will be issued by the permitting jurisdictions upon review of the completed filings. Pending permitting approvals, we anticipate construction mobilization would potentially begin in September 2021 and for the project to begin generating clean, American-made solar energy by the end of 2022.”

After 30 or 35 years, the panels will be decommissioned.

Documentation for the project is available for inspection and review at the Boone County Area Planning Office, 116 W. Washington St., Room 101, Lebanon.

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