COLUMBIA CITY — The Indiana Municipal Power Association is planning a nearly $8 million investment in Columbia City for a solar panel park.

Last week, Columbia City’s Common Council approved a 10-year tax abatement for the project, which will help offset future electric rate increases.

IMPA has been the electric provider to the city since 1993, working together with other entities in the state to purchase wholesale power at a more economic rate.

Now, IMPA is working with local entities to produce locally generated power, including the proposed site in Columbia City on Opportunity Drive in Armstrong Corporate Park.

“IMPA appreciates Columbia City’s support of our tax abatement request for the Columbia City Solar Park,” commented IMPA President and CEO Raj Rao. “Our ongoing commitment to providing a low-cost, reliable and environmentally responsible power supply to our 61 communities, including Columbia City, is a top priority for the agency. The Columbia City Solar Park will enable us to expand our diverse portfolio through the addition of solar energy that will be provided to Columbia City, making a lasting impact on the community.”

The 15,000 solar panels will convert sunlight into electricity, helping propel the city forward in becoming more environmentally friendly, while attracting new industry to the community.

“I think we are all pleased to see the installation of this source of renewable energy in our community,” said Jon Myers of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation. “This project is something that we can all be proud of for years to come.”

The anticipated start time for the project is the first quarter of 2020.

“IMPA has always been a strong partner since 1980, when the city joined the organization. The installation of these solar panels will strengthen that relationship, while providing a direct benefit to the consumer and adding green energy to our electrical grid. We are excited to partner with IMPA on this important project,” Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel said.