Iowa lights way to a solar future as largest solar garden comes online

As Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is fond of reminding people when he talks renewable energy, Iowa is a well known leader in wind energy development, but Alliant Energy – one of the state’s largest utilities – is trying to change the solar conversation in the state.

Yesterday, the utility announced the second of its most recent solar projects – the 1.2 MW Port of Dubuque Solar Garden – had started producing energy, bringing the Dubuque’s project’s capacity 6.2 MW, as the largest solar development to date in Iowa.

In a state like California or Hawaii, a 6.2 MW community solar project would elicit a collective yawn from the industry. In Dubuque, Iowa, however, it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.

The solar gardens are comprised of 19,160 panels on 27 acres and will power 850 homes.

“These two solar gardens are part of our plan to harvest a clean energy future for our customers,” said Terry Kouba, vice president of Iowa operations at Alliant Energy. “We’re continuing to diversify our energy resources, and these additions are another step to help us reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 2005.”

Kouba added that the Port of Dubuque site was particularly challenging because of its status as a former industrial site and that it taught the utility lessons about developing such sites. He added they will use those lessons as they continue solar development in other areas of the state.

This site will offer an educational display for visitors to learn more about solar energy. A public open house is expected next spring.