The Schahfer coal-fired power plant in Jasper County, Indiana, is scheduled to shut down in two years. When it does, about 30% of the county’s tax base will vanish.

Kendell Culp, a Jasper County commissioner, says the closure poses difficult questions for local leaders.

“What does county government look like without your largest taxpayer? And will you be able to provide the same services? Can we still provide public safety and response, good response time for emergency services and that sort of thing?” he asks.

To make up for the lost tax revenue, the county is working hard to attract new businesses and encourage growth.

New clean energy development should provide a boost. A solar developer and the local utility are planning to build a massive solar farm in Jasper County, called the Dunns Bridge solar project.

When complete, it will span about 5,000 acres. It will also include battery storage.

The project is expected to be fully operational around the same time that the coal plant closes.

“We’re excited. It coincides very well with the shutdown of Schahfer,” Culp says.

So as Jasper County moves away from coal, solar can help supply both a new, clean, renewable source of electricity and tax revenue to support community services.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.