The city of Muncie is buying the former GM factory property on the city’s Southside. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, officials wants to turn it into a solar panel farm to generate power.
The former General Motors factory was closed in 2006 and the property has sat largely vacant since the buildings were demolished. Muncie will purchase 53 acres from the trust that owns the land. Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour says solar panels will be added to generate more than 24 million kWh of energy.
“A brownfield that’s been sitting there for more than a dozen years – maybe 15 years. It’s important for the neighborhood to see something new. It’s important for the city to see something new.”
Ridenour says he’s not allowed to divulge the sale price for the property until it’s complete, and the city has until the end of the year to do that. The city council has already approved the cost of a solar panel farm, likely about $17 million. But the solar energy generated will greatly lower the city’s energy cost.
“Well, our streetlights are more than a half-million dollars a year, alone, so.”
The RACER Trust who owns the land will still remain responsible for its environmental cleanup. Phase 1 of a required environmental impact study began this week.
Ridenour says he hopes to introduce an ordinance to the city council to approve the purchase in March. Because of changes to state law, solar projects created this year will get more money for the next decade when they sell extra energy created back to the energy grid. Ridenour says the city hopes to meet that deadline.
The city also says the Muncie Sanitary District will create three more solar fields on property it already owns to help with that agency’s electric use.