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CIPCO plans $7 million solar project

Will supply electricity for about 600 homes

(File Photo) Sunlight streams between two solar panels on an array for Luther College in Decorah on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(File Photo) Sunlight streams between two solar panels on an array for Luther College in Decorah on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) will begin construction within the next month on a 5.5 megawatt solar project at six sites across its service territory.

The Des Moines-based member cooperative will invest about $7 million to construct the initial phase of its long-term plan to incorporate solar generation as an additional emissions-free resource within its generation assets.

Kerry Koonce of CIPCO said solar panel arrays will be installed at Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative, East-Central Iowa REC, Clarke Electric Cooperative, Consumers Energy, Midland Power Cooperative and Pella Cooperative Electric.

“It takes about four months to complete a site, so we will have all six sites done by the end of the year,” Koonce said. “The solar will benefit all of our members, no matter which system they are on.”

The solar project will provide up to 5.5 megawatts of alternating current electricity, enough to power roughly 600 Iowa homes.

CIPCO is contracting with Azimuth Energy LLC of St. Louis, Mo., to install the photovoltaic utility-scale solar project. Azimuth, an engineering, construction and development-support service company focused on renewable energy, was selected by CIPCO after it initiated a request for proposals in late 2015.

The development and installation costs for utility-scale solar energy systems have fallen significantly in recent years. Dennis Murdock, CIPCO president and CEO, said in a news release that has created an opportunity for CIPCO to invest in the alternative, carbon-free resource.

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“Over half of the energy generated by CIPCO is emissions and carbon-free, and the addition of solar resources continues our commitment to providing a well-balanced generation portfolio,” Murdock said.

CIPCO has an operational headquarters at 1400 Highway 13 in Cedar Rapids. Its member cooperatives serve nearly 300,000 rural and urban residents and approximately 12,000 commercial and industrial accounts.

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