116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Utilities Board has accepted the filings of applications for the two Duane Arnold solar projects near Palo and has set a partial procedural schedule moving forward.
The IUB announced Friday that it issued an order and accepted the applications for certificates of public convenience, use and necessity for the two projects, Duane Arnold Solar I and II, and has docketed the applications for further investigation.
The order indicates IUB staff has reviewed both dockets for substantial completion on the applicant’s end. In December, the IUB requested additional information for both projects. NextEra, the project’s developer, filed additional information in January.
Duane Arnold I is a proposed 50 MW solar facility on 316 acres of agricultural land within an 857-acre project site in Linn County. Duane Arnold II, the larger of the projects, is a proposed 150 MW solar facility and 75 MW battery storage system on 815 acres within a 1,780-acre project site.
IUB’s partial procedural schedule sets deadlines of April 7 for any parties seeking intervention and April 14 for responses to any filed comment, objection or request to intervene.
NextEra, a Florida-based company, submitted its separate application to Linn County in February for the two-phase project. The IUB process is separate from the county’s, but IUB approval is contingent on local approval.
How the process works in Linn County
The county process for this project will be the same as it was for the Clenera Coggon Solar project. It must go through a technical review committee meeting, a planning and zoning meeting and three readings by the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors have the final say on whether a project passes on the county level.
Linn County Planning and Development Director Charlie Nichols said there is no schedule on the county side yet.
Nichols said the hope is to hold the technical review meeting is mid- to late April and the planning and zoning meeting in June with, the Board of Supervisor votes happening in July and August.
“This is a very rough time frame still,” Nichols said.
If ultimately approved by the county and state, the project would begin construction in spring 2023 and would be in operation by the end of 2024.
NextEra not using eminent domain
NextEra, which has operated in Iowa since 1999, said in June it plans to invest $800 million in the solar project, including $50 million paid to landowners over the project’s 30-year life span.
The company’s land leasing phase was nearly complete in last June, project director Kimberly Dickey said. She has previously said NextEra would not use eminent domain to acquire the land.
That statement was backed up in the IUB applications, saying “the applicants state the projects will be sited on 100 percent voluntary easements and they will not be seeking eminent domain.”
Alliant wants to buy the large-scale project
In November, Alliant Energy filed a proposal to the Iowa Utilities Board to buy the large-scale solar project from NextEra and further develop the project into the state’s largest solar and battery storage facility.
If everything is approved, the plan would be for NextEra to develop and construct the project, but once operational, Alliant would own and operate the project.
The Utilities Board’s decision on the Palo project is expected in the second half of 2022, Alliant said.
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