Renewable energy firm Lightsource bp has begun operating its 152.5-MWac/173 MWdc Bellflower Solar project in Indiana.
Situated in Henry and Rush Counties, the project was developed, financed, and will be owned and operated by Lightsource bp. SOLV Energy, the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor, managed the installation of over 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.
Lightsource bp says it has also entered into a virtual power purchase agreement with Verizon, securing the energy generated by Bellflower Solar. The project is expected to annually offset around 202,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to improved air quality and supporting Verizon’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality in its operations (scope 1 and 2) by 2035.
Beyond its emissions reduction benefits, the Bellflower solar farm brings several environmental advantages to Indiana. Lightsource bp has dedicated 800 acres of land under and surrounding the solar panels to vegetation consisting of native species beneficial to pollinators and wildlife. This land will be conserved for decades, while an additional 10 acres have been specifically set aside for lush pollinator gardens consisting of more than 60 varieties of flowering plants.
The land beneath and around the solar panels will also be used for agricultural production. A local commercial beekeeper will manage beehives, producing solar farm honey, and a nearby Indiana farmer will graze sheep to assist in maintaining the vegetation.
Additionally, the solar farm is actively participating in a research study conducted by the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, the University of Illinois Chicago, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This study aims to assess the ecological benefits of pollinator habitat in utility-scale solar projects.
Over its lifespan, the project is projected to generate $30 million in property tax revenue for Rush and Henry Counties, benefiting local schools and other community public services. The project’s annual operations budget of $2.4 million will primarily be spent in the region.
Lightsource bp notes that the construction of the Bellflower project has created hundreds of jobs across the supply chain, supporting domestic manufacturers and low-carbon products. During peak construction, more than 350 workers were involved in building the facility.
“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.”