Columbus, IN – June 21, 2022: A proposed solar farm being developed in northeast Bartholomew County would create the largest pollinator garden in the county, developers announced today. The 200-megawatt solar project will be named Swallowtail Solar Farm and will include up to 10 acres of native, pollinator-specific plants located within the project area.
Pollinator gardens create critical habitat for butterflies, bees and other animals that are essential to agriculture and food production. The Columbus City Council voted last year to make Columbus the first Bee City USA affiliate in Indiana and established a pollinator committee whose goals include expanding pollinator friendly habitat. The solar farm developers consulted with members of the Columbus Pollinator Committee to ensure that their plans would help further the community’s goals.
“We always work to maximize the community and environmental benefits of our projects. At Swallowtail Solar Farm, we can create important wildlife habitat and improve soil health while generating clean electricity and economic growth,” said Zach Sawicki, Senior Project Development Manager for Arevon. “We’re looking forward to making the largest pollinator garden in Bartholomew County a key part of our solar farm.”
"To thrive in the future, we need solar projects that provide innovative technological and ecological solutions for supplying energy while also conserving our natural resources," said Eric Riddle of Friends of Pollinator Parks and the Sierra Club Winding Waters Group.
Swallowtail Solar Farm is being developed by two U.S. companies with extensive renewable energy experience. Nebraska-based Tenaska is leading on-the-ground project development and Arizona-based Arevon will be the project’s long-term owner and operator.
The pollinator garden will be created in addition to the deep-rooted native, perennial groundcover that will be planted throughout the solar farm site. These plants will create wildlife habitat, prevent erosion, and improve drainage and soil quality for the landowners who have chosen to lease land for the solar farm. The voluntary lease agreements require the solar farm owner to return the site to its prior condition at the end of the project’s 30-year life.
Swallowtail Solar Farm is still in the development process and would not start construction before the second half of 2024, pending all applicable approvals. The project will need to complete its field studies and surveys, finalize design, obtain permits, and other steps before it can begin construction. Bartholomew County has developed a draft solar ordinance which, once finalized, will set requirements for the project’s design and operation.