The Journal Gazette
Friday, May 07, 2021 1:00 am

A shining example

Solar farm latest demonstration of I&M's commitment to renewables

Toby Thomas

Indiana Michigan Power, along with the University of Notre Dame, symbolically flipped the switch, turning on the St. Joseph Solar Farm near South Bend on Thursday.

It represents much more than adding new, emission-free power generation to the electric grid from our fifth and largest solar facility.

Our partnership with Notre Dame helps both the university and I&M advance our mutual goal of achieving a more sustainable clean energy future.

The 20-megawatt St. Joseph Solar Farm also serves as a model for how Indiana and Michigan businesses and institutions, such as universities, can work with us to advance green energy – wind or solar – in the future.

The solar farm will generate up to 20 megawatts of electricity – enough energy to power more than 2,700 homes annually. By collaborating with I&M, Notre Dame will receive 40% of the renewable attributes of the new solar farm while gaining another resource to demonstrate its commitment to renewable energy.

There are also considerable environmental benefits. The solar farm will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 13,000 tons, the equivalent of not driving more than 30 million miles or 14,000 trips between South Bend and Los Angeles.

With nearly 58,000 solar panels, measuring 86 inches long and 51 inches wide, the farm's proximity to the Indiana Toll Road is a public exhibit of environmental commitment by I&M, Notre Dame and our community in general.

Its location, just 8 miles from the Notre Dame campus, will empower both of our organizations to collaborate on future educational opportunities and research benefits in connection to the solar farm.

While the new solar farm is a significant milestone for us, it is part of a larger, ongoing transition of our generation fleet.

In 2020, 85% of the energy I&M generated was emission-free. We now own and operate five solar farms as well as purchase power from three wind farms and operate six run-of-river hydroelectric facilities along the St. Joseph River. I&M also generates 2,278 megawatts of electricity, with both units operating at the D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant, the equivalent of powering more than 1.5 million homes a year.

American Electric Power, our parent company, is committed to reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. AEP plans to add more than 16,600 megawatts of new renewable resources to its generation portfolio by 2030 and is investing in a smarter, more modern power grid and new energy technologies to help reach these goals.

Projects such as the St. Joseph Solar Farm build on that dedication to creating a sustainable future for our employees, customers and the communities we proudly serve in Indiana and Michigan.

Our customers – from residential homeowners to large businesses – can also make a difference and support renewable energy.

They can participate in our IM Green program available to both residential and commercial customers in Indiana and Michigan. Customers subscribe to renewable energy credits from I&M-owned facilities that represent the renewable energy attributes and reduce our customer's carbon footprints. This can cost as little as pennies per day for an average residential customer. Customers can learn more at

All of us at I&M are proud to be your hometown energy provider for the Greater Fort Wayne area. It's important to work within our local community to create clean projects, like the St. Joseph Solar Farm, to empower environmental, economic and social change.

We will continue to lead by example, using technology and innovation to serve customers with the clean energy we all want. 

Toby Thomas is president and chief operating officer of Indiana Michigan Power.

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