South Bend to be solar power player

Indianapolis may be the state capital, but South Bend is poised to become Indiana’s ‘solar capital.’

South Bend will soon house the largest solar energy system in the Hoosier State.

The installation of the system will start this summer at the new headquarters for South Bend’s bus system—Transpo.

“It’s a 100-kilowatt system that will be the equivalent of about 25 to 40 residential homes worth of electricity,” said Tim Polega of Inovateus Solar. “The Transpo building is going to have the state’s largest solar installation going on the roof.”

The idea of South Bend being Indiana’s solar capital is not as strange as it seems according to T.J. Kanczuzewski of Inovateus Solar. “You know a place like South Bend, Indiana we’re not known for our sunlight either, we get a lot of lake effect clouds but these newer technologies they work well in low light conditions.

A solar seminar held in South Bend today gave industry professionals from across the nation a chance to learn about the latest technology.

“Thin film technology is really a game changer and differentiator because we can go where other glass panels cannot go,” said Corby Whitaker of Uni-Solar.

Unfortunately, many of those panels are now going to projects overseas, and in Canada. “All of our cells are made in Michigan in the United States, a big part of our shipments do go overseas, the European markets have been very good when creating incentives for renewable energies,” Whitaker said.

Creating better solar incentives in the U.S. is the goal of U.S. Rep. Joseph Donnelly, (D) Indiana’s 2nd District. Donnelly today addressed the crowd at the solar conference.

“What you’re going to see is energy legislation that will reflect the need for American energy independence, and a big part of that is solar.” Congressman Donnelly believes congress will end up demanding that a higher percentage of the country’s energy needs—be filled through renewable sources. “What is being talked about was the renewable goal of approximately 15 percent renewable energy, by 2020 that's been talked about in Washington, that’s an achievable goal.”

In 2008, the nation got approximately seven percent of its energy from renewable sources.

All the talk serves to reinforce a belief that more projects the size and scope of the Transpo project—lie on the horizon.

“I think two or three years from now the solar industry will be booming in the United States, and the United States is poised to be the largest solar market in the world,” said T.J. Kanczuzewski.

New Jersey apparently created its own renewable energy portfolio standard and sparked a boom for solar power system installers.

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