The sun was shining bright over Middletown Thursday. Not a cloud in the sky.

The perfect weather to start building a solar park.

Middletown officials joined leadership from Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) on N. 800 West to officially break ground on a new 3,888-panel solar array.

The 1.35 megawatt (MW) farm will make enough electricity to power the equivalent of 215 homes each year.

Ron Koons, Middletown’s IMPA Commissioner, marveled that the town will be using the newest high-tech equipment to capture energy from the sun.

Middletown Town Council President Jake Smith shared the council’s gratitude to IMPA for pursuing the solar array.

“This project is a three-legged stool,” Smith said. “Middletown wanted it. IMPA wanted to do it. The other leg of that stool is you’ve got to have a property owner that’s willing to give up some property for this type of project. With that in mind, we can sure thank Frank and Mark McCrocklin for helping us out in that vein.”

The McCrocklin family has been a part of Middletown since 1948. Their business interests have changed over the years, but the McCrocklin’s are still invested in the community.

Frank bought a field on N. 800 West and his son Mark bought the storage units in front of it. When they heard IMPA was looking for property for solar panels, Frank and Mark reached out about selling about 10 acres to the power co-operative.

“I’m all for the environment, you know. I’d like my kids to have a place to live,” Mark said. “We do what we can where we can to make something better... This is our little way of fighting back, I guess.”

Mark likes that the power generated there in Middletown will go to Middletown homes and businesses. Frank hopes the solar panels will help prevent local power outages.

The deal with IMPA included selling the land to them, rather than leasing the property. There are also easements through Frank and Mark’s property for a drive and a buried three-phase power line.

Because they sold the farm ground, the McCrocklins are actually losing potential crop revenue.

“In the long term, it may not have been the best investment for us, but it’s our way of investing in the community,” Mark said. “Someone’s gotta step up and do it, and it made sense for us.”

“We want to help the community,” Frank said.

Middletown will be the newest IMPA community to supplement its electric needs with a local solar park. It is joining Spiceland in the club and, soon, Knightstown.

IMPA President and CEO Jack Alvey said a lot of pieces had to fall into place to make this solar farm a reality.

The Henry County Planning Commission granted approval of the development in November. Nearly a year later, IMPA and the Middletown Council could celebrate starting construction.

Alvey said construction will start this month. It could take nine months to a year for Middletown solar array to be complete and operational.
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