By STAN Maddux
MONTICELLO, Ind. – More wind farms are planned for Indiana, a state already ranked high in the U.S. for wind generated power.
Additional wind farms in the state appear likely with at least one utility planning to totally eliminate power generated by coal.
On Oct. 24, Northern Indiana Public Service Company and EDP Renewables SA on unveiled plans for the Indiana Crossroads Wind Farm in White County, a heavy agricultural area in the northwest part of the state.
The announcement follows the February unveiling by NIPSCO and EDP Renewables SA of the Rosewater Wind Farm also in White County.
“It’s exciting to see another home-grown renewable project and investment break ground in Indiana,” said NIPSCO president Violet Sistovaris.
The 302 megawatt Indiana Crossroads Wind Farm expected to be operating in 2021 will produce enough electricity to power 83,000 average sized Indiana homes annually, officials said.
Groundbreaking occurred in early October on the 102 megawatt Rosewater Wind Farm expected to go into service in 2020.
“We are pleased to expand wind energy in White County and the state as well as build upon our partnership with NIPSCO as they advance their transition to clean energy sources,” said Miguel Prado, chief executive officer for EDP Renewables North America, LLC.
The partnership stems from last year’s decision by NIPSCO to phase out the production of electricity from coal by closing its five remaining coal fired generating stations within a decade or so.
For example, its coal fired generating station in Wheatfield is scheduled to close in 2023.
Another NIPSCO coal burning generator in Michigan City is targeted for closure by 2028.
According to NIPSCO, more clean energy projects will be announced next year because of the utility’s need to replace coal generated power.
As of 2017, Indiana ranked 12th in the U.S for the amount of wind generated power, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Close to five-percent of the electricity consumed in the state that year was produced from wind.
Most of Indiana’s 16 active wind farms are in White, Jasper and Benton counties, sparsely populated areas with plenty of open space for wind to travel across and pick up speed.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind power in Indiana because of its wealth of flat terrain especially in the northern part of the state could increase up to 20 times the amount presently generated by 2030.
Indiana also has potential to start generating power offshore in the shallows of Lake Michigan but offshore wind power development lags far behind onshore development in the U.S. due to higher costs.
The Washington D.C based AWEA, representing wind-power developers and equipment suppliers, cited the potential for growth of wind power in the state by scheduling its 2021 Clean Power conference and trade show for 2021 in Indianapolis.
To reach its potential, though, the state needs to do more to promote clean energy development and require utilities supply a certain percentage of wind generated power, according to clean energy industry insiders.
“It’s time for Indiana to step it up and put policies in place which encourage the development of renewable-energy projects, or we will continue to lose big to states like Iowa and Texas, which recognize the enormous economic benefits that wind can provide,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana.
A major hurdle in the growth of wind power is restrictions being adopted by more Indiana communities feeling turbines hurt property values and quality of life.
In May, for example, Tippecanoe County prohibited turbines greater than 140 feet in height.
Commercial turbines are typically 300 to 600 feet tall.
Despite the shift toward wind, solar and natural gas produced electricity, Indiana still ranks second in the nation for coal consumption with 70-percent of its power still generated by coal.
According to researchers at Harvard and Carnegie Mellon University, wind and sun generated power from the Midwest contribute most to reducing global warming emissions and improving public health because of the amount of electricity now produced from coal there.
“There’s a lot of coal there and there’s a lot of people who live in the region and downwind of the region,” said Jonathan Buonocore, one of the researchers.
Less of an impact is made from states like California which already use a lot of renewable energy sources, he said.