Iowa's Largest Solar Project

Iowa's Largest Solar Project

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Midland Power’s affiliate cooperative, Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), will be working with Clēnera LLC to develop the largest solar project in Iowa, and one of the largest in the Midwest. Midland Power’s affiliate will purchase 100 percent of the energy and capacity output for 25 years from Wapello Solar, a 100-megawatt solar facility to be located on approximately 800 acres in Louisa County.

The project will incorporate the latest in solar array technology to provide cost-effective, clean electric energy. Cutting-edge solar panel technology will be paired with efficient solar inverters and a single-axis tracking system to maximize energy generation. Clēnera, based in Boise, ID, will develop and operate Wapello Solar with the facility retaining all associated renewable energy credits. The completion date for Wapello Solar is expected to be December of 2020.

“We are thrilled to see this relationship with Clēnera bring low-cost, clean energy to our members,” said Midland Power CEO Bill McKim. “As a member-owner of CIPCO, we see this as a milestone project in striking a meaningful balance with energy cost, reliability and stewardship for our members. Energy produced by the sun provides an excellent complement to wind energy. This is an innovative way for us to offer reliability and efficiency.”

The Wapello Solar project meets Clēnera’s mission of adding cost-effective solar energy to the grid, according to co-founder and CEO Jason Ellsworth. “Solar technology is powering huge cost savings and incredible environmental benefits for communities. The future for renewable energy projects is bright,” he said.

“Together with our suppliers and technology partners we’ve dramatically reduced costs and now see interest in projects extending to places that before now did not expect to see competitive prices from solar projects,” Ellsworth said. “Today’s solar technology allows us to be better stewards of our natural resources and at the same time create jobs and low-cost energy to power the hopes and dreams of generations to come. These projects are quiet neighbors that provide consistent, stable power at a fixed rate.”

This is the second recent major generation project announced by Midland Power’s affiliate, CIPCO, as they recently announced a 60-megawatt project to repower the Summit Lake Generating Station in Creston. The project includes demolition of its 70-year old steam plant and installation of efficient natural gas-fired reciprocating engines by late 2022.

In addition, the Heartland Divide Wind Energy Center came online at the end of December. CIPCO is purchasing 100 percent of the energy produced by the 103.5 megawatt Heartland Divide facility.

These announcements come on the heels of actions this summer by NextEra Energy Resources and Alliant Energy who petitioned the IUB to close the Duane Arnold Energy Center (DAEC) in Palo in 2020, 14 years before the plant’s operating license would expire. CIPCO is 20 percent owner of the nuclear plant and receives 20 percent of its generating capacity from DAEC.

“We’re pleased to see these cost-effective energy projects added to the generation portfolio,” said McKim. “Our member-consumers benefit from economical pricing on these next generation resources. Not only do members insist on cost efficiencies, they also demand reliability. It’s exciting to provide both through complementary generation projects powered by the wind and the sun.”

“As we look ahead, there are still good opportunities to potentially add more solar as well as wind projects to our portfolio,” said CIPCO’s Executive Vice President and CEO Bill Cherrier. “Even with the announcement of these new projects, we are still working to fill the anticipated gap left by the upcoming closure of DAEC. Right now, pricing on next generation resources is advantageous. When considering reliability and cost-efficiency, it’s important to keep a balanced approach and consider the options, not just now but into the future.”

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