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Lee County solar project would reduce energy costs

Lee County Solar Panels
Will Buss
Tri States Public Radio
The Alliant Energy solar panels would power 150 megawatts of power throughout the state of Iowa.

Utility provider Alliant Energy has taken another step toward generating solar power in southeast Iowa.

Lee County officials agreed to proceed with a proposal to build a field of solar panels near the city in Wever. The project calls for developer Interstate Power and Light Co. to build and install solar panels on 900 acres build a 75-megawatt battery energy storage unit.

Alliant Energy spokesperson Morgan Hawk said 900 acres covers 0.003 percent of Iowa farmland and 0.4 percent of the open fields in Lee County.

Hawk said these panels would power 150 megawatts of power throughout the state of Iowa. He also said that in time the solar panels would provide energy cost savings and a cleaner energy source in Lee County.

“Installing solar in general is more cost effective than continuing to maintain and operate coal,” Hawk said. “Transitioning to solar helps to avoid long-term costs providing lower cost energy to customers compared to coal so we can avoid ongoing inspection expenses and investments that are required to keep some units of coal operational. But it's also important to note that solar is only part of the total cost of delivering energy. So, while clean energy sources like solar will cost less and less in the long run, you know other costs will continue to fluctuate.”

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said the county is looking forward to developing solar energy for its residents.

“I think it's exciting to get a solar farm in here, and I'm looking forward to getting more,” Fraise said.

The Iowa Utilities Board is scheduled to meet in May, when the Lee County solar project could receive final approval.

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