MUSCATINE, Iowa–A historic day about 18 months in the making, Muscatine Power and Water signed a power purchase agreement with Nokomis Energy to begin work on Muscatine Solar 1, the utility’s first large scale solar installation. An important step in Muscatine Power and Water’s Powering the Future Initiative, the occasion brought together numerous community partners to mark this important event.
Since about 2019, Muscatine Power and Water has investigated adding solar power to its generation portfolio. In 2021, they announced the Powering the Future program, where they outlined their goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030. They also previewed plans to transition from coal powered generation to natural gas powered generation and to build a solar installation. Following the announcement, Muscatine Power and Water explored potential locations, eventually choosing their Grandview Wellfield as the most advantageous site. They also selected Nokomis Energy as the company they would work with to build the solar installation.
At the signing ceremony, Muscatine Power and Water General Manager Gage Huston welcomed the commencement of the Solar 1 project. “Today marks an exciting step forward in Muscatine Power and Water’s Powering the Future Initiative and serves as a major milestone in the Muscatine Solar 1 project.”
Huston also thanked Bayer of Muscatine, HNI, and Grain Processing Corporation for their support of the Choose Green Muscatine Business program, which has shown a strong interest in bringing more renewable energy sources to Muscatine and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “The commitment from Grain Processing Corporation, HNI, and Bayer are a symbol of their sustained investment in Muscatine and a shared vision of a more sustainable future,” Huston said.
For their part, all of the key players in the project shared in Huston’s enthusiasm. “Grain Processing Corporation and KENT Corporation is very excited for the entire community for this project, MPW Solar 1,” stated Senior Vice President of GPC Ron Zitzow.
“This project is an example of how we work with our stakeholder to make improvements and advocate for the entire community,” added Muscatine Power and Water Board Chair Kevin Fields.
Nokomis Energy President Brendan Dillon observed: “We’re very excited and proud to be part of this project. . . It shows the long history that Muscatine has in supporting its utilities.”
Currently, Muscatine Power and Water projects that Muscatine Solar 1 will come online in 2025. Doug White, director of power production and supply detailed that Muscatine Power and Water will need to have environmental, geographical, and historical studies of the Grandview Wellfield conducted to allow them to erect the solar installation in the most secure way possible without negatively impacting the local environment. Following these surveys, they will need to enter into a financial agreement with Nokomis Energy, get the necessary building permits to start construction, purchase the solar modules needed, sign a notice to proceed with Nokomis Energy, and order a generator step up transformer, which can take as long as a year and a half to arrive. Additionally, Muscatine Power and Water will work with MISO to integrate Muscatine Solar 1 with the larger electric grid.
Though bringing Muscatine Solar 1 online will require a lot of effort, Huston feels Muscatine Power and Water will rise to the occasion. “It’s an exciting and challenging time–we’re on the cusp of a major transition in how we produce electric power for the community of Muscatine.”