Lightsource bp has begun commercial operation of its 152.5 MWac / 173 MWdc Bellflower Solar project, located about 40 miles east of Indianapolis in Henry and Rush counties, Indiana. Lightsource bp developed, financed and will own and operate the solar farm, and has entered into a virtual power purchase agreement with Verizon with respect to the energy generated site.
The Bellflower Solar farm furthers Verizon’s goal of being carbon neutral in its operations (scope 1 and 2) by 2035.
“Verizon is committed to protecting our planet by supporting the production of renewable energy and the transition to a greener U.S. energy grid,” said James Gowen, SVP of global supply chain and sourcing, and chief sustainability officer at Verizon. “The renewable energy produced by the Bellflower Solar project will help us achieve net zero operational emissions by 2035.”
Multiuse solar maximizes environmentally friendly benefits
The Bellflower solar farm brings many environmental benefits to Indiana, in addition to improving air quality by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.
Lightsource bp planted 800 acres of land under and around the solar panels with vegetation that includes native species beneficial to pollinators and other wildlife, which will be conserved for decades. An additional 10 acres has been dedicated to lush pollinator gardens with more than 60 different types of flowering plants.
The solar farm is participating in a research study which will measure the ecological benefits of pollinator habitat at utility-scale solar. The research team consists of the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Land under and around the solar panels is also being kept in agricultural production. A local commercial beekeeper is managing hives and will produce solar farm honey, while another local Indiana farmer will graze sheep to help maintain the vegetation.
“The Bellflower project is a great example of our commitment to responsible solar development in action,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas at Lightsource bp. “Beyond delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy, Lightsource bp has a deep commitment to maximizing the sustainable benefits of our solar projects for communities, protecting ecosystems and improving biodiversity.”
Home grown electricity supports energy security
Bellflower Solar is helping reduce America’s foreign dependence and increase Indiana’s energy security with home-grown electricity. Projects like Bellflower also help strengthen local rural economies. The project is expected to generate $30 million in property tax revenue to Rush and Henry counties over its life, benefitting local schools and other community public services. Its operations budget of $2.4 million each year will be primarily spent in the region.
The Bellflower project created hundreds of U.S. jobs across the supply chain, while supporting domestic manufacturers and low carbon products. More than 350 people worked on-site during peak construction to build the facility. SOLV Energy was the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project which included installation of more than 377,000 ultra-low carbon solar panels manufactured by Arizona-based First Solar along with smart solar trackers manufactured by New Mexico-based Array Technologies.
“Indiana is an emerging leader in the clean energy transition, and Bellflower is a prime example of how investments in solar energy are benefitting Hoosiers,” said George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy. “Large-scale projects like Bellflower bring economic benefits to the entire community through new employment and training opportunities for residents, support for local schools and nonprofits, and income for area businesses that SOLV Energy partners with throughout construction.”
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