Duane Arnold Nuclear Plant in Iowa to Close Early

Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, Iowa’s sole nuclear power plant, will shut down in late 2020 — five years sooner than the current power purchase agreement between NextEra Energy Resources and Alliant Energy.  That agreement, which requires approval from the Iowa Utilities Board, means the plant is expected to cease commercial operations in 2020.  Alliant’s agreement with NextEra originally was set to run until 2025.

Duane Arnold, which first began producing power in 1975, is located about nine miles northwest of Cedar Rapids and is one of the larger employers in Linn County with 500 highly skilled employees.

Officials for both Alliant and NextEra said the existence of cheaper forms of energy prompted the decision to close Duane Arnold.  

As part of the new agreement, Alliant will make a $110 million buyout payment to NextEra in September 2020. That payment will cover the costs of shortening the power purchase agreement by five years.

Alliant said it had planned to submit an application to the Iowa Utilities Board to receive approval for the buyout.

NextEra owns a 70 percent stake in Duane Arnold, and 70 percent of the electricity produced there — about 430 megawatts — goes to Alliant. Des Moines-based Central Iowa Power Cooperative, or CIPCO, and Humboldt-based Corn Belt Power Cooperative own 20 percent and 10 percent stakes, respectively.

 Duane Arnold

Duane Arnold

Under the new agreements, Alliant will purchase about 340 megawatts of energy from four existing NextEra-owned Iowa wind facilities.

After Duane Arnold shuts down and stops energy production in late 2020, the plant will have to go through a decommissioning process.  That process will include moving fuel rods from the plant’s reactor to a spent fuel pool, where it will cool for four to five years.  Once the rods are cool, they will be moved to dry storage at Duane Arnold.   (The Gazette)