Follow Farmers: the path to nearly 2 megawatts of solar energy

Follow Farmers: the path to nearly 2 megawatts of solar energy

Farmers Electric Cooperative has installed a large array of solar panels in southeast Iowa to generate electricity.

“Follow Farmers” is the story of how Farmers Electric Cooperative in the small southeast Iowa town of Kalona installed nearly 2 MW of solar. The entire construction of this historic solar array is currently streaming live at followfarmers.solar.

Farmers Electric Cooperative partnered with Iowa Wind and Solar to engineer, finance and construct their newest solar project, a 950.4 kW array consisting of 2,880 solar panels. This brings FEC's total solar array size to nearly 2 MW. To understand the size of this array, think of it as enough to power more than 200 homes. This installation makes Farmers Electric Cooperative the leading solar utility in the state of Iowa.

CAPTURING SUN POWER: A southeast Iowa power cooperative has installed 2,880 solar panels to collect electricity near the town of Kalona. It brings the co-op’s total generating capacity to nearly 2MW, enough to power more than 200 homes.

Construction on the large project is taking place this October
According to project leader and Iowa Wind and Solar Company president Tyler Anderson, "This is the first instance we are aware of in which the entire construction and installation of a solar array of this magnitude has been available for the public to watch live. We're encouraging folks to check out the live stream online at followfarmers.solar." Iowa Wind and Solar is a company that is partnering with Mevo and Livestream to make this live stream possible.

Construction on the large project is ongoing this fall during October at 1912 520th St. SW, in Kalona, Iowa. Iowa Wind and Solar Co. has offices in Fairfield and Bloomfield in southern Iowa. The firm’s mission is to work with electric cooperatives to help implement solar solutions, such as community solar, with a focus on aligning values between the electric co-op utility and its members.

If you'd like more information, contact Jen Kranz at Iowa Wind and Solar, 800-8080-SUN.  For access to all assets visit followfarmers.solar.

In other renewable energy news in Iowa this week, a new study shows wind power could save consumers in the state $12.6 billion over 25 years. This could be done by doubling the amount of wind generation in Iowa.

Wind energy generation in Iowa could be doubled
Pushing the amount of wind generation in Iowa to 20,000 megawatts would save the average Iowa household $3,200 on its electric bills over 25 years, according to the report by the American Wind Energy Association. Industrial customers would save $825,000 over two decades. The report was released October 17 at a panel discussion about wind benefits at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Last year, wind power provided more than 31% of the state’s electricity. The report says Iowa received more than $500 million in gross benefits last year from existing wind generation. Wind generation benefits are expected to grow over a period of time as “the cost of fossil fuels is only expected to increase.”

Wind is a key part of Iowa’s energy generation portfolio
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, says “Iowa is already a leader in wind energy, with only more growth visible on the horizon. Building our state’s capacity to deliver renewable energy to companies and consumers will continue to set Iowa apart from the competition. Kathryn Kunert, a vice president at MidAmerican Energy, says “wind is an integral part of our energy portfolio that helps us keep energy prices stable and affordable over the long-term. Our rates today are the ninth lowest nationally, about 36% below the national average.”

Industries related to wind generation employ more than 6,000 people in Iowa, the report says, and landowners receive more than $17 million in lease payment income annually.

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