The proposed location for the solar farm facility.

The Iowa Board of Regents approved Iowa State’s request to begin planning to develop and build a solar farm on university property in a partnership with Alliant Energy. 

“What the regents really approved … our request to proceed with planning for this solar farm, to work together with Alliant Energy and continue to make plans to make it a reality,” said Brian Meyer, the associate director of strategic communications at Iowa State. 

The proposed solar farm location is on university land south of campus that is managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Department of Animal Science. The farm will have an output maximum capacity of 900-kilowatts, which equals enough energy to power 230 homes annually. The solar farm will help power nearby teaching and research facilities.

“The way I understand it, the power that's generated will essentially be used in that area, but we will receive renewable energy credits,” said Meyer. “Those renewable energy credits offset what our carbon emissions are from campus, and to the amount, maybe, of what is used down in that particular area of campus south of town with these teaching and research farm operations.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines renewable energy credits as  “tradeable, market-based instruments that represent the legal property rights to the ‘renewable-ness’—or all non-power attributes—of renewable electricity generation.” 

Iowa State would be receiving these renewable energy credits through Alliant Energy. 

alliant diagram

How Alliant Energy’s Customer Hosted Renewables program works.

Alliant Energy will also design, construct, own, operate and maintain the solar farm for Iowa State as part of their Customer Hosted Renewables program. This program is part of Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Vision, that has a goal of attaining net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity it generates by 2050.

Another part of the planning surrounding the solar farm is how the farm could be used for educational purposes at Iowa State, including options for teaching and research opportunities for students and faculty.

“We’re in the stage of really working with all of our university partners and then our engineering staff to design the best system that’s gonna be advantageous to our partnership,” said Nick Peterson, community outreach manager with Alliant Energy. “When we created this idea, the real focus was how do we make this not only a renewable energy generator, but also an opportunity for both our company and the university.”

Once the design phase is figured out, Alliant Energy and Iowa State will have to obtain the correct permits and applications for the solar farm before construction begins which is expected in late 2022 or in 2023. 

“We see a lot of value in working with the faculty, staff and students at Iowa State,” said Peterson. “Investing in an institution like Iowa State is a value for Alliant Energy because our whole goal is to support our customers, provide great service to our customers, and strengthen the communities that we serve. And many of the communities we serve are benefited from the work that’s done at Iowa State University.”

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