Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, is celebrating 40 years of operation with the release of a report showing its economic impact in the state. Governor Branstad joined company officials Wednesday for a celebration at the Duane Arnold Energy Center outside Palo.
Richard Anderson, a vice-president for Duane Arnold’s owner NextEra Energy, says the plant opened in 1974 with a commitment to safety and the highest standards. “We have met that commitment and will continue to meet that commitment because we live here too,” Anderson says. A report by the Nuclear Energy Institute says the plant contributes $250 million annually to Iowa’s economy and employs some 600 workers.
Governor Terry Branstad congratulated the operators of the plant and pointed out its employees make more than double the average wage in Benton County, and more than 50-percent more than in Linn County.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has relicensed the facility for another 20 years. Other aging nuclear plants have recently shut down because of expensive repairs. “I think that’s a very low probability at Duane Arnold,” Anderson says. Anderson says the company continues to monitor efforts to approve long-term storage for spent fuel in the western united States. But he says in the meantime, Duane Arnold has the capacity for storage for 60 years. He says new technologies have made the plant safer than it was when it opened 40 years ago.
Duane Arnold’s owner NextEra Energy recently negotiated a long-term contract with Alliant Energy to provide power to a million Iowa homes and businesses. Duane Arnold produces 8-percent of the state’s electric power.