Bainbridge celebrates opening of solar park

Friday, November 13, 2015
Bainbridge Utility Superintendent Jeff Kiger (kneeling left) and IMPA President Raj Rao let students from Bainbridge Elementary have the honor of officially opening the newly-constructed IMPA Bainbridge Solar Park on Friday. (Banner Graphic/NICK WILSON)

BAINBRIDGE -- The opening of the highly anticipated IMPA Bainbridge Solar Park took place Friday afternoon as students, local leaders and a number executives took part in the ceremony.

Indiana Municpal Power Agency (IMPA) President Raj Rao was present for the ribbon cutting alongside several staff members. Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory also stopped by to take part in the activities as students not only got the chance to cut the proverbial ribbon, but take a tour of the facilities with insight to how the field of solar panels work.

Local officials present included councilmen Jerry Lents and Joel Thompson.

"This is a 0.3-megawatt facility, as opposed to some of our other solar parks throughout the state that range in size from 0.7 megawatts up to 3 megawatts," Manager of Marketing Communications Niki Dick said of the three-acre installation. "So it really is spectacular in itself."

President Rao welcomed the students from the adjacent Bainbridge Elementary School with snacks and souvenirs, and several members of the IMPA educated the kids about the inner workings of the panels -- how they receive sunlight and turn it into a usable form of renewable electricity.

"About 150 to 200 years back, we used to burn wood and wood chips, that was the only way to heat the homes," Rao said. "Coal worked for some time, but then we got the electricity and the trains and a lot of things happened.

"Now we are trying to move away from coal and move into natural gas," Rao continued. "And in the daytime, when the sun is shining, we want to use (solar) electricity."

Bainbridge Utility Superintendent Jeff Kiger also took a moment to address the crowd before the ribbon cutting.

"This is what we've been working on for a long time now -- over a year," Kiger said. "This is the result of a lot of forward-thinking by the utility board and the town board, and this is hopefully the first of many projects that makes us more attractive to other communities and other businesses that would want to come to Bainbridge."

Local resident Martha Stephens and her family originally donated the land to the IMPA and was present to speak to the students.

"It's so nice to see all of you here at the solar park," Stephens said. "This is your future. Do you like 'Star Wars?' Because here it is -- good luck."

The newly-constructed solar park is located at 300 W. Vine St. in Bainbridge.

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  • A really great thing for Bainbridge. Congratulations to our community!

    -- Posted by BGTeach on Sat, Nov 14, 2015, at 7:09 AM
  • I do find it kinda hypocritical tho that Jerry Lents and Joel Thompson would be there. Joel didn't support and Jerry wasn't involved in any aspect of this project. A lot of people worked very hard on this for along time. Very forward thinking by the past Town Council and the Utility Board. Great team work in obtaining this jewel for our community. Again, congrats to our community!

    -- Posted by BGTeach on Sat, Nov 14, 2015, at 8:06 AM
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