Alliant Energy is looking to generate more of the electricity it feeds to Iowans from the sun. Alliant spokesperson, Justin Foss, says the company has issued a request for proposals seeking ideas on how to do that.
“We’re asking solar developers and installers in the area, and I guess across the country. to come back with proposals to help us increase the amount of solar energy that’s generated here in Iowa,” Foss says.
Alliant Energy doesn’t currently own any facilities in Iowa that generate electricity from the sun. “What we do have is 1,650 different customers who are generating their own solar energy, and then the excess from that gets put back on the grid. Right now, all of those customers combine are generating at the peak about 22 megawatts of energy,” Foss explains. Foss says 10 megawatts of electricity is enough to power around 2,000 average homes for one year.
“We’re asking developers to come back and show us what it would cost and what it would do for systems between one (megawatt) and total up to ten,” Foss says. “So, we could increase the amount of solar energy that we have on our system up to 50 percent, if everything works out.” Foss says the costs of building and maintaining solar systems have decreased a lot over the last several years — and they are looking to the experts in the field to help them take advantage of the technology.
“Each way that you configure the solar generation — or energy generation in general — has advantages and disadvantages. And what we are trying to find out is what are the cost advantages to doing it one way versus another. And then what are the disadvantages,” Foss explains.
He says adding more solar power helps the company continue to diversify its energy sources and “You know when the wind stops, all those wind turbines aren’t producing. When the sun is shining it’s great, but when the sun is not shining in the middle of the night you don’t get that benefit from solar energy,” Foss says. “So, what we want to do is to continue to diversify how we generate our energy so that we can get the best benefit from each source.”
Foss says they hope to receive the proposals by early November and will then go through them. He says they hope to be able to move ahead with some solar projects by sometime next year.