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Alliant Energy proposes solar power project in southeast Iowa

Solar panel-Macomb-01.jpg
Rich Egger

An Iowa utility company wants to install solar panels near Wever to supply power for customers across the state.

Alliant Energy Renewable Energy Director Justin Voss met with the Lee County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 12 to discuss the proposal.

Voss said half of the 24 affected property owners have granted Alliant the right-of-way for the project.

He said the utility is working with the county attorney and county engineer, and is now seeking the county board’s approval.

“We would like to finish negotiations and come to an agreement with you and with your staff this fall,” Voss said.

The plan calls for solar panels to cover 230 acres of land near Highway 61 that would generate 150 megawatts of energy. The development would be located north of a fertilizer plant and adjacent to the Augusta Access and south of the Skunk River in Lee County.

To give an idea of how much power that is, Lee County Supervisor Ron Fedler said that just 1.5 megawatts can generate enough electricity to power both the Arctic Glacier Premium Ice plant and the Merschman Seeds plant in West Point, Iowa for an entire year.

Lee County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Pflug said he likes the plan for several reasons.

One, he said, was that no eminent domain would be used to take land from property owners to build the field of solar panels.

“Also, the landowners that you are working with are on board, so that's a positive, too, as well,” Pflug said.

“I definitely see this as a win-win for Lee County going forward.”

He also said it has potential to grow the local economy.

The five-member county board of supervisors did not vote on the proposal at the Sept 12 meeting. The board might do so when it meets on Sept. 19.

Alliant Energy has scheduled and invited customers to a public meeting with the county utility board at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Quality Inn & Suites in Ft. Madison.

The plan is part of a larger project that Alliant Energy announced two years ago.

The project calls for adding solar-powered energy to replace the utility company’s coal-powered plants.

The new solar panels would generate 400 megawatts of energy for the utility provider’s customers in Iowa, who reside in 83 of the state’s 99 counties.

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