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Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) has announced plans to partner with Clēnera LLC to develop the largest solar project in Iowa and one of the largest in the Midwest. CIPCO 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. This area is served by Eastern Iowa REC, a local distribution co-op which receives power generated and transmitted by CIPCO.

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, Idaho, 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 2020.

“We are thrilled to partner with Clēnera to bring low-cost, clean energy to our members,” says CIPCO CEO and Executive Vice President Bill Cherrier. “This is a milestone project as we look to strike a meaningful balance with energy cost, reliability and stewardship for our members. Energy produced by the sun provides an excellent complement to wind energy. Energy from Wapello Solar will be produced during our daily and seasonal peak demand times. This is an innovative way for us to offer reliability and efficiency to CIPCO’s energy portfolio.”

The Wapello Solar project meets Clēnera’s mission of adding low-cost 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 says. 

This is the second major generation project announced in as many months by CIPCO, as the cooperative 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, CIPCO is purchasing 100 percent of the energy produced by the 103.5-megawatt Heartland Divide Wind Energy Center, making it CIPCO’s largest wind energy project to date.

These announcements come on the heels of actions last 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 add these cost-effective energy projects to our portfolio,” Cherrier says. “Our members and their member-consumers benefit from advantageous 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.”

Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) is a generation and transmission electric cooperative. CIPCO and its 13 members serve more than 300,000 Iowans in 58 Iowa counties.   


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