116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Linn County Board of Supervisors is preparing to vote on a pair of solar energy projects being proposed near Palo, close the site of the closed Duane Arnold Nuclear Power Plant. The projects have stirred controversy, particularly among nearby residents.
Some have argued they don’t want to live near large solar installations and worry about declining property values. Others have questioned the use of productive farmland for the solar projects. Concerns have been expressed about the safety of a battery storage facility.
We understand these concerns. But we think, on balance, the benefits of NextEra’s Duane Arnold Solar projects outweigh these concerns. We urge the Board of Supervisors to move ahead with projects.
The application for the projects, Solar I, placing panels on 316 acres of an 857-acre site, and Solar II installing panels on 815 acres of a 1,780-acre site, seeks to mitigate the impact on neighbors and the land. It includes a vegetation management plan, setbacks from neighboring properties and screening, among other measures.
NextEra is developing the project and Alliant Energy has filed a proposal with the Iowa Utilities Board to eventually buy the facilities. The IUB will have the final say on the sale.
To us, it’s the big picture that matters most. To head off the worst consequences of a global climate crisis, we need to expand the availability of clean, renewable energy. Too much of our electricity still is produced by burning fossil fuels that release climate warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That needs to change, and time is running out take action. The solar project is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 9.49 million metric tons per year.
Yes, the solar projects will not churn out megawatts like the nuclear power plant did. Solar I has a peak output of 50 MW and Solar II can generate up to 150 MW, although power output will vary based on weather and other factors, hence the need for the 75 MW battery storage system.
But the projects represent steps toward producing electricity in a more sustainable way. Iowa is already a national leader in wind power. And we see no reason it can’t fill a leadership role on solar.
The Board of Supervisors will meet Monday at 6 p.m. at the Palo Community Center. We hope all residents with an interest in the projects gather and weigh in. Two other meetings will be held on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.
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