The next phase of a massive solar farm project in northern Indiana has begun.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and many stakeholders in the Mammoth solar project broke ground on the second phase of the project on Thursday; a plan to build solar panels on about 3,500 acres of land in northern Pulaski County. This particular phase is called ‘Mammoth South.” Once completed this specific section of the project will generate about 350 megawatts of electricity.
“Mammoth North”, the first phase of the project is already being built on 4,000 acres in southern Starke County.
“It’s exciting to see the ingenuity and the innovation that continues to come from a project this big,” said Gov. Holcomb. “It’s going to end up ultimately powering, this 1.3 gigawatts, will end up having the ability to power about 275,000 homes. And for that, it just makes our state stronger.”
Project leaders like Nick Cohen, President and C.E.O of Doral Renewables which will operate the solar farms, said the project will encompass 13,000 acres of land between the two counties. But, he said the solar panels themselves will take up only 20 percent of that land.
Cohen said the remaining land will be left for traditional agriculture.
“We don’t cut down trees, we leave the wetlands intact, if there’s a sensitive habitat area, we don’t touch it,” said Cohen. “There will be sheep grazing, there will be what we call Agri voltaic, different crops are grown around and sometimes between panels.”
In fact, Cohen said as a trial run for that concept they grew popcorn on 100 acres of land in and around the panels.
Once completed the two farms will create around 400 jobs and generate about $40 million in economic impact for the region over the next 20 years.
This has been part of a clean energy push of late from Gov. Holcomb, who will be departing soon on a trip to Egypt to serve as the keynote speaker at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.