Mammoth Solar project breaks ground in Starke County
Governor Eric Holcomb and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Gilad Erdan were both in attendance at a groundbreaking ceremony for a massive solar project Thursday.
Israel-based energy company Doral Renewables will build a 1.3 gigawatt solar farm across 13,000 acres in Starke and Pulaski counties. Phase One is expected to cost $475 million, and will provide enough power for 75,000 Midwestern homes.
Holcomb said the project – called Mammoth Solar – will be one of the largest in the country.
“Starke County is kind of the epicenter of the universe in terms of the way of the future, and the way we can care for our land and the way we can grow our way into further prosperity,” he said.
The project is expected to create 500 jobs during its three-year construction period, and could generate up to $1.5 billion of investment in the region. Over 50 agricultural landowners are involved in the project, which is expected to create 50 new, full-time jobs when fully operational.
“Mammoth North Solar will work with Starke County’s rural nature by providing the farm landowners a sustainable income that is not dependent on weather, federal trade policies or global grain policies,” Hoosiers for Renewables assistant director Connie Neininger said.
Doral officials say the project will also remove 40,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere and conserve 1 billion gallons of irrigation well water annually.
Holcomb and Erdan also lauded the project’s significance for their two states – the ambassador called it “a milestone in the Israel-U.S. relationship.”
Mammoth Solar is one of several recent, large-scale solar projects in Indiana. In Elkhart County, the Board of Commissioners recently turned down a proposal for a 150-megawatt solar farm outside of Millersburg due to concerns from businesses and homeowners neighboring the site.
When asked if he would live next to a solar farm, Holcomb said “sure.”
“These projects are not just locally born, but they’re locally cultivated,” he said. “If more work needs to be done – so be it, and the locals absolutely should be front and center. That’s what forges a better partnership going forward.”
Speaking for the landowners, lifelong Starke County resident Ralph Swanson said the advent of electricity, automobiles and the Internet all changed the region – so, too, will solar energy.
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to be part of a project that will help bring economic prosperity and an environmentally-friendly power source to our county, our country and our world,” he said.
The first phase of the project is expected to start operating by the middle of 2023.
Contact Gemma at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.
If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.