Two years ago, Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) announced it would purchase 100% of the power from Wapello Solar, currently the largest solar project in Iowa, owned and developed by Clēnera, LLC. Today, the project is well underway and on schedule to produce low-cost energy to CIPCO member-owners in early 2021.
Located on approximately 650 acres in Louisa County and served by Eastern Iowa Light & Power, Wapello Solar incorporates cutting-edge solar panel technology with efficient solar inverters and a single-axis tracking system to maximize energy generation. CIPCO will purchase 100% of the energy and capacity output for 25 years from the 100-megawatt Wapello Solar.
“The crew working on the project really seem to enjoy Iowa and some of them even bought houses here,” says Terry Fett, director of engineering & operations, CIPCO. “While Clēnera refers to this as a ‘small’ solar project, it’s big for Iowa, and it’s certainly big for CIPCO and its member-owners.”
Construction on the substation that will serve Wapello Solar began in May 2020 and is currently on track to receive backfeed power by the end of the year from CIPCO. RES Americas is also on target to have the plant mechanically complete by the end of year, with testing and commissioning of the system taking place at the beginning of 2021. Commercial operation is currently targeted for the beginning of 2021.
Milestones and quick facts about Wapello Solar
May 18, 2020: Work begins as local site contractor Triple B Construction clears the site and builds the interior roadway. Solar panels are delivered and stored in a warehouse in Muscatine until site prep work is complete.
July 2020: RES Americas, the engineering, procurement and construction provider, begins receiving and installing the solar panel pile and racking system.
September 2020: A local transportation company begins to transport solar panel modules from a warehouse in Muscatine to the project site.
70: Approximate percentage of solar panel modules that have been delivered to the site to date.
81.5: Approximate percentage of pile and racking system installed to date.
5,000: Estimated number of sawhorses used by Clēnera during construction
100: Estimated number of sawhorses discarded every day due to damage from assembling the solar panel tracking systems.
600+: Anticipated number of people who have worked on Wapello Solar. This is normal. For reference, a project a little bigger than Wapello Solar went through 1,500 people!
4: Number of miles of public/county roadways that encompass the site.