When the sun is shining, the electricity will be flowing.
In a diversifying energy market, Noble REMC and its customers will be one beneficiary of a new solar field currently being constructed just south of LaOtto.
If you’ve driven along S.R. 3 recently, you may have noticed crews putting up dozens of metal frames at the southeast corner with C.R. 70 in DeKalb County. This week, installers have been starting to add the recognizable mirror-like panels to those frames, all tilted slightly upward toward the southern sky.
The 1-megawatt solar array is being built by Wabash Valley Power, a nonprofit whole power producer which provides energy to numerous utilities in the region through its co-op solar program. Wabash Valley Power provides electricity to Noble REMC, which serves customers in Noble and DeKalb counties and other surrounding areas.
Construction started earlier this month and is advancing quickly, with the new solar array expected to be connected and generating power by spring, said Noble REMC communications specialist Kelly Lynch.
The power from the solar array will hook into Noble REMC lines, but through Wabash Valley, it can be distributed to REMCs in Noble, DeKalb, LaGrange and Steuben counties as well as 20 other Midwest co-ops.
Having the array located just off the highway allows Noble REMC to show people where their electric comes from as it continues to grow and diversify its energy sources.
“It’s cool to just be able to visualize solar energy,” Lynch said. “We have this program, but now we can show people exactly where they’re getting it from.”
The array was engineered by Solential Energy and is being put in by Indianapolis-based Bee Solar.
Mike Robinson of Bee Solar said the array consists of 3,648 individual solar panels installed on the racks. Those will generate about 1.2 megawatts of direct current energy, but when that’s transformed to alternating current — the type of electricity that is used for transmission — it totals 1 megawatt.
That power will go into the grid to be used where it’s needed, but if it were hooked up directly, a 1-megawatt field could power about 75-125 households depending on usage, Robinson said.