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Iowa nuclear plant may close in 2025

The reactor in Palo is a major employer in Linn County

NextEra Energy Resources Duane Arnold Energy Center as seen from the main gate on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.  (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
NextEra Energy Resources Duane Arnold Energy Center as seen from the main gate on Wednesday, November 18, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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Iowa’s only nuclear reactor may close by the end of 2025, the company that owns the plant said last week.

Florida-based NextEra Energy said Friday it does not believe the main customer for the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo will renew its contract, which expires in 2025. That customer is Alliant Energy, a spokesman for Alliant confirmed Monday.

“Without a contract extension, the facility would likely close at the end of 2025 despite being licensed to operate until 2034,” NextEra said in a news release.

Alliant Energy’s contract with Duane Arnold goes through 2025, Alliant spokesman Justin Foss said.

Foss said Alliant has not made a final decision on whether it will renew the contract, but lower costs for other forms of energy mean the company has looked at alternatives.

“The cost of wind energy right now has really dropped as well as the cost of natural gas to be at levels where they are competitive and have never been before. We are continuing to pursue different options for our customers to make sure that they get the best value,” Foss said.

A spokesperson for NextEra was not immediately available to comment Monday morning.

Located about nine miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, Duane Arnold employs about 600 people in Palo and is one of the larger employers in Linn County. It started operations in 1975.

NextEra said it will continue to seek a contract extension that would let the plant stay open.

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Chief Financial Officer John Ketchum said on an earnings call Duane Arnold’s contribution to the company’s profit “has been and is expected to be negligible over the next several years.”

NextEra reported operating revenues of about $17.2 billion and adjusted earnings of $3.17 billion in 2017.

Alliant signed a contract in 2013 to purchase 431 megawatts of energy from NextEra through February 2025, according to a Reuters article from the time. Duane Arnold’s reactor has a net output of 615 megawatts.

Alliant previously owned a majority stake in Duane Arnold, but sold its ownership in 2005 to FPL Group, now known as NextEra.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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