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Offline Iowa Nuclear Plant Eyed As Site Of Solar Project

solar panels
Fernando Tomás
/
Wikimedia Commons
A Florida energy company laid out plans in a meeting with nearby landowners to build a solar farm near the now-idle Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo.

A decommissioned eastern Iowa nuclear plant could become the site of a new massive solar energy project.

NextEra Energy of Florida on Tuesday laid out plans in a meeting with nearby landowners to build a solar farm near the now-idle Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported.

The company said the project could bring in a $700 million capital investment and about 300 construction jobs. The solar farm would stretch across 3,500 acres near the plant and would produce up to 690 megawatts of solar energy — more than the nuclear plant had generated.

“We’re also hoping to accompany that solar project with up to 60 megawatts of AC-coupled batteries,” project manager Kimberly Dickey said in the meeting.

Battery storage allows a company to store energy for use during peak energy-use times.

Iowa’s lone nuclear plant had operated for 45 years, but was set to be decommissioned at the end of October as the state’s energy portfolio swings more to wind and solar. It was taken offline weeks early following extensive damage to it in August’s derecho, which brought winds of more than 100 mph to eastern Iowa.

The solar project would create about $41.6 million in tax revenue and result in $50 million in payments to the landowners where it is built, according to NextEra.

The company will negotiate leases with landowners this summer and hopes to begin construction next winter. The company’s goal is to have the solar farm operational in 2023.