"Sandhills Energy is excited to work with a forward-thinking utility in IMU,” said Raki Giannakouros, Executive Vice President for Sandhills Energy. “In a volatile utility market, the solar project will provide stability and day one savings that are projected to increase over time as wholesale energy rates rise.”
There will be no increase in cost to IMU’s customers, and they will see no changes to their bill. Solar-generated electricity will simply become part of the overall power mix.
“This is a unique opportunity for a city the size of Indianola to offer solar to our customers at competitive rates, without bearing the construction and maintenance costs ourselves,” said IMU Board of Trustees Chair Lori Smith. “We’ve been working towards this for a while, and we’re excited to explore the possibilities of solar for the community of Indianola.”
The state-of-the-art system will feature First Solar Series 6 photovoltaic (PV) panels. First Solar is the largest domestic manufacturer of PV panels, and their patented thin film technology provides a host of benefits, including superior snow shedding, higher shade tolerance and an industry-leading degradation warranty.
IMU’s new solar generation facility will be co-located with the water plant at 1602 S. K Street, on about 25 utility-owned acres. Environmental stewardship is a priority; the installation will sit atop low-height pollinator habitat maintained by Sandhills Energy. Its 4.1-megawatt capacity will generate up to 6.5 million kilowatt hours of IMU customers’ electricity every year, and seasonality will be only a minor factor, as IMU’s new solar arrays will be able to reliably generate electricity even when partially covered by snow.
It will also help lower costs over time. By tapping into renewable solar energy, IMU will be able to offload about 10 percent of the peak demand load in summer and up to 40 percent in winter. Put simply, that’s energy the utility doesn’t have to buy from the grid when it costs the most. Since IMU’s cost to purchase electricity is based on historical usage, lowering peak usage will create substantial savings up front, and reduce the utility’s cost to purchase and bring power to Indianola in the future.
“As IMU moves to diversify its power mix, solar is an important component,” said IMU General Manager Chris DesPlanques. “Our goal is to become carbon neutral, and this is a significant step forward.” IMU and Sandhills Energy are tentatively scheduled to break ground in June 2023. The solar generation facility is expected to be online before the end of 2023.
Headquartered in Omaha, Sandhills Energy is a Midwest renewable energy corporation with over 2 GW of wind, solar, and storage in development. With an office in Iowa, Sandhills Energy understands the importance of local collaborations. The company delivers innovative, precision-developed projects for local partners, and are always eager to utilize local subcontractors to maximize the local economic benefit of its facilities. Learn more at sandhillsenergy.com.