WHEATFIELD — Despite the brisk chill in the air, a large group of officials from the KV School Corporation, Jasper County REMC, Wabash Valley Power, Solential Energy and Bee Solar gathered to dedicate the new solar array located near the intermediate and middle schools. The nearly 18 acre site is set up and soon ready to go online supplying power to REMC members, and providing deep discounts to the school corporation on power usage.
Opening the morning’s event was Andrew Horstman, project manager for the Wheatfield Solar Generating Station on the corporation’s grounds. The solar array will not only be beneficial for the school corporation, but will also benefit students through a curriculum on solar energy and how it works.
A handful of students from the intermediate school and middle school were on hand to cut the ribbon on the project and to ask questions of the people who built it, planned it and will monitor it.
Returning for the dedication was former superintendent Dr. Aaron Case, who began the process through an email from Stephanie Johnson at the Jasper County REMC. CEO Brian Washburn said he and Case began the discussion over a cup of coffee. He thanked Case for his insight in allowing the co-op to build the array on corporation land. After Case left, Iran Floyd took over as interim superintendent and kept the process moving forward through the planning stages passing the baton on to current Superintendent Don Street.
The solar array will provide enough electricity to power 400 homes a year with a total of 13,110 panels spread across the more than 17 acres surrounded by chain link fence with barbed wire on top. Even though the panels are not currently connected to the grid, as soon as they are set up, they begin producing electricity and the area is already considered a high voltage area.
Already the worksite has had an issue with thieves breaking in and stealing wire and equipment. Due to this and equipment back orders, the ability of the panels to go online was delayed. Solential expects to have the solar power connected by the end of November and security cameras are being installed to keep watch over the panels, their wiring and the equipment waiting to be put to use to prevent any further disruptions to the process.
With this dedication, the solar array will be a part of the landscape for at least 30 years. The students who helped with the dedication will be able to show their children how they were a part of it on a special day in 2019.