Indiana is preparing for ‘Project Honeysuckle.’
St. Joseph County is already home to two massive solar farms. These are known as South Bend and Notre Dame. Authorities in the area have now re-joined forces with renewable energy company RES to continue with “Project Honeysuckle” in Indiana. This project is planned to be Indiana’s next large solar farm, covering up to 1,900 acres.
This project is expected to establish a new special taxing district. It is expected to be used to funnel money toward tax incentives for the company and St. Joseph County’s development efforts in the “Indiana Enterprise Center” industrial zone.
The proposal is also anticipated to ignite controversy over the formation of a new tax-increment financing district (TIF). This TIF would allow the county to spend tax revenues produced by the project on both financial incentives for RES and continued initiatives to attract new businesses to the New Carlisle region.
According to a RES representative, the Honeysuckle solar farm has been in the works for more than a year; the company intends to begin construction next year and finish in 2023. The farm would create a maximum of three full-time permanent jobs. Furthermore, the spokesman stated that the firm had already leased 1,900 acres from private property owners. However, the solar panels will likely cover fewer than 1,000 acres.
When finished, the Honeysuckle project will have a capacity of 150 MW. Also, if completed, it will be one of the largest initiatives, increasing Indians’ solar commitment on a weekly basis.
What is TIF?
TIF is a popular and divisive economic development instrument employed by municipal governments around the US, including Indiana.
When a local government establishes a TIF, the “base” property value inside the district is frozen at the level that existed before the district’s establishment. From then on, all new taxes levied on higher property values in the district are directed to the municipal or county redevelopment commission.
Those tax dollars are often used primarily to fund debt in the form of bonds by redevelopment commissions. The borrowed funds are then used by the city or county to either assist pay directly for a private construction project or to pay for infrastructure, land acquisition, consultancy costs, or other activities inside the specified “economic development area” where TIFs are permitted.
Other government agencies, such as schools and police departments, do not receive the new tax revenue generated by TIF development until any borrowing is paid off and the TIF expires, which might take decades.
In the case of the solar farm, the county is considering utilizing TIF money to reimburse RES for part or all the property taxes owed on the project.
A brand-new Indiana is on the way.
Indiana has a long history of being devoted to the fossil fuel industry. However, Indiana has seen a solar renaissance in recent years, particularly at the utility level. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) inked a build-transfer agreement with Capital Dynamics in March for the 200 MW Elliot Solar project. This project will be developed in the southwest of the state.
Afterward, the utility company stated 900 MW of solar over three projects: the 200 MW Cavalry Solar project, along with 60 MW of energy storage; the 265 MW Dunns Bridge Solar I project; and the 435 MW of solar and 75 MW of battery storage Dunns Bridge Solar II project.
NIPSCO recently inked a long-term power purchase deal for 280 MW of power produced by Capital Dynamics’ forthcoming Gibson Solar project, as well as a construct and transfer deal for the 200 MW Indiana Crossroads Solar Park.