State board OK's Alliant ending nuclear power purchase

Settlement means small cost savings for customers

Helen Arnold, daughter of Duane Arnold looks into the water pool where spent fuel rods are stored with Plant Operations
Helen Arnold, daughter of Duane Arnold looks into the water pool where spent fuel rods are stored with Plant Operations Manager Ray Wheaton at the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo on Friday, April 17, 2015. Helen Arnold had not been inside the nuclear power plant since touring it with her father shortly before it went on-line in 1974. Arnold toured the plant with Plant Operations Manager Ray Wheaton and met with many employees, some of whom had known her father. “It still feels like coming home,” Helen Arnold said following her visit. Duane Arnold oversaw the construction and opening of the plant as Iowa’s only nuclear power facility. The plant provides electricity to more than 600,000 homes and is currently licensed to operate through 2034. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Alliant Energy’s request for a settlement that will allow the utility to end its purchase of energy from Duane Arnold Energy Center has been approved.

The Iowa Utilities Board’s approval of Alliant’s request to recover a one-time $110 million payment allows the utility to end its purchase of power from the state’s sole nuclear power plant. The plant, based in Palo, is slated to shut down in late 2020 — five years sooner than the current power purchase agreement between NextEra Energy Resources and Alliant Energy.

The Iowa Utilities Board announced the settlement agreement in a Thursday news release.

Duane Arnold, which first began producing power in 1975, is about 9 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids and is one of the larger employers in Linn County. The power plant, at 3277 Daec Road, is owned by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.

The plant this summer employed about 540 people. NextEra has estimated that when the plant shuts down and stops generating power in late 2020, it will need only about 300 employees.

As the plant is decommissioned, that number will reduce until fewer than 50 employees are required.

Alliant and NextEra officials have said the closure of Duane Arnold should save Alliant’s customers about $300 million over 21 years, starting in 2020.

Savings for Alliant Energy customers will be reflected in the fuel cost portion of customers’ bills — representing about a 3 percent monthly savings, or about $42 a year — for residential customers starting in 2021. Commercial and industrial customers will see a roughly 2.3 percent fuel cost savings.

As part of the state board’s approval, Alliant in 2022 will be required to provide annual reports on the costs and savings associated with the agreement.

If savings are not realized, affected parties could seek recovery, per the settlement.

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