NextEra Energy plans to turn Iowa’s only nuclear power plant into a solar farm

U.S. energy company NextEra Energy announced plans last week to build a 690-megawatt solar project at the site of its closed Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Palo, Iowa.

The company shut the nuclear reactor in August 2020 after a massive storm damaged the plant’s cooling towers. Though, it was already slated for closure in October 2020 because the plant didn’t fit Iowa’s increasingly wind and solar-based energy portfolio.

The new solar farm plus storage will replace the single-unit, 615-megawatt nuclear plant, which powered more than 600,000 homes. NextEra also intends to include up to 60 megawatts of AC-coupled batteries for power storage.

NextEra’s NextEra Energy Resources unit proposed to build the $700 million solar project, which it says on its website will create about 300 construction jobs if given local and state approval.

NextEra will negotiate leases with landowners in summer 2021 and begin construction in winter 2022. The Iowa project will encompass about 3,500 acres and the company intends to have the solar farm operational by the end of 2023.

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 the NextEra website.

Previous coverage

State Auditor releases report reviewing solar energy projects at public entities -March 4, 2021

Iowa Energy Center board awards $2.7 million in energy grants -Sept. 21, 2020