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New solar field unveiled outside of Marshalltown

Part of Iowa’s largest utility-scale solar project

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ CIPCO Manager of Engineering Terry Fett and CEO Dennis Murdock discussed the benefits of solar power during the unveiling Thursday afternoon at the Marshalltown Gateway Centre Solar Array Site.

Fittingly, it was a sunny Thursday afternoon as Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), in partnership with Consumers Energy, officially unveiled the Marshalltown Gateway Centre Solar Array Site, in a dedication ceremony open to the public.

The Marshalltown location is one of CIPCO’s five sites that together generate 5.5. MW of utility-scale solar power — Iowa’s largest operating solar energy system. All of the sites have been fully energized since December 2016, providing energy to customers.

“CIPCO is proud to reveal the new solar field in Marshalltown,” said its CEO Dennis Murdock. “Partnering with our member, Consumers Energy, provided access to an exceptional site for solar generation.”

The Gateway Centre Solar Array Site is made up of 1,188 solar panels (17,000 total across all locations) and 33 racking tables. The Marshalltown location alone has the ability to generate 441,340 kWh of energy in its first year, which is enough to fully power 44 homes.

“Our goal is to provide customers with reliable and affordable energy. Solar is just one type of power CIPCO uses,” said CIPCO Manager of Engineering, Terry Fett. “What that means is you have to have a mix of energy types to keep your electricity rate consistent.”

Fett said utility-scale generating sites are more cost-effective than single or community-scale sites.

“It’s because utility-scale is a larger set-up and is more efficient. It goes directly to the distribution grid to power homes that are powered by Consumers Energy,” Fett said.

The average life expectancy for this type of generating facility is 25 years.

“Diversification of our generation options benefits all of our members across the territory,” said Jim Kidd, Consumers Energy’s general manager.

CIPCO’s current generation mix is 60 percent emissions and carbon-free. It is the state’s largest cooperative energy provider, and is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative, generating and transmitting power to its 13 electric cooperatives and associations in 58 of Iowa’s counties.

CIPCO’s other solar sites are located in Urbana, Wilton, Pella and Osceola.

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