The pitch for solar in St. Joseph County

NOW: The pitch for solar in St. Joseph County

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.-- As St. Joseph County leaders discuss further regulations to solar projects, ABC57 spoke with leaders trying to bring a project to the county.

Tuesday, the St. Joseph County Area Plan Commission voted to take amendments to the county's solar ordinance to the County Council with a favorable recommendation.

Scott Remer is the senior director of development for Hexagon Energy, the group trying to bring the Dumont Solar Project, a 300-megawatt solar array, to fruition near North Liberty.

"When we look at developing a large-scale solar project, like what we're talking about with the Dumont Solar Project, we look for three things in particular, maybe even four."

He said Hexagon picked the location for various reasons, the first being a market for power.

"[St. Joseph County] is an excellent place for this," Remer said. "Because there is a lot of heavy industry that has moved in recently, including this new Amazon data center, there's a Microsoft facility that's moving in, and there's a GM battery manufacturing plant."

The second, connectivity to the grid.

"This is the Dumont Substation, it is one of the largest, if not the largest substation in the United States of America," Remer said.

The electricity from the Dumont solar project would feed directly into the Dumont substation.

And three, landowners who want to participate. Remer confirmed they’ve secured about two dozen lease agreements for the project which spans about 40 parcels of land.

The project is seeing backlash, especially from one organized group, rethink industrial solar, even spurring county legislators, Amy Drake, and Randy Figg, to push for a moratorium.

I’ve been concerned is it’s proximity to potato Creek State Park, but Remer insists the 2,500 acre project won’t be visible from the park.

"We are probably looking somewhere closer to about 1500 acres of total fenced area,” Remer said. “The panels sit on about a third to a half of that. So, half or more of the space is still open greenspace with a lot of grasses, a lot of greenery growing around it. A lot of room for gardening and sheep grazing underneath it."

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