Muscatine Power and Water (MPW) announced Tuesday it’s expanding its renewable energy portfolio by entering into a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) with Nokomis Energy for the Muscatine Solar 1 project, MPW’s first utility-scale renewable project in Muscatine.

This comes after months of planning and negotiation to develop the project concept and identify commercial terms that were beneficial to MPW’s customers, according to a Tuesday company release.

The Muscatine Norbert F. Beckey Bridge lit up at night.

For this historic project to continue moving forward, MPW needed to secure key commitments and partnerships from local customers. Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), HNI Corporation, and Bayer U.S. – Crop Science have each signed on as anchor tenants, with a long-term commitment for a share of the output of the new solar project, the release said.

“For decades, Muscatine has continued to benefit from having these three great companies operate in our community and their support of the Solar 1 project now allows Muscatine to take a huge step forward in renewable energy growth,” MPW general manager Gage Huston said in the release.

The addition of solar energy to MPW’s portfolio aligns with its strategic plan to responsibly invest in renewable energy.

“Today marks an exciting next step forward in our Powering the Future plan and serves as a major milestone in bringing the Muscatine Solar 1 project to life,” said Huston. “While we are still in the initial phases of this project, we want to keep our community updated on this monumental renewable energy investment.”

Partnerships in green energy initiatives, like Muscatine Solar 1, support sustainability goals of large customers, while ensuring they have the dependable power needed to maintain their operations when renewable energy is not available.

“MPW’s balanced efforts to support the sustainability goals of our large industrial partners while keeping costs down for all customers is an example of the Utility’s forward-thinking and its role as an energy partner,” said MPW Board Chair Kevin Fields. “As a community-owned, not-for-profit utility, you can be assured that both the board and the staff at MPW are committed to doing what’s best for our customers and Muscatine as a whole.”

Construction on the 24-megawatt solar installation at MPW’s Grandview Avenue Wellfield is anticipated to begin in late 2024, with an operational target of the fourth quarter of 2025.

Muscatine Solar 1 also supports MPW’s ambitious sustainability goal of reducing carbon emissions by 65% by 2030, while balancing the need for reliable and affordable service of which all its customers rely on.

Since 2017, about 5.5% of MPW’s customer electric energy needs were met from MPW’s wind portfolio. Muscatine Solar 1 would more than double the amount of renewable energy in MPW’s portfolio, with the amount of renewable energy equivalent to an estimated 11-12% of MPW’s annual customer energy needs once the project goes into service.

MPW’s Choose Green – Business program will be rolled out in the coming weeks to all large commercial and industrial customers, giving each of them the opportunity to be a partner in this historic project.

For all other customers, they can sign up at any time to MPW’s existing Choose Green program and opt to have a share of their energy usage come from MPW’s renewable portfolio. The Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy program empowers customers to cover all or a portion of their electricity used with renewable energy.

Currently, that energy comes from MPW wind, but when Solar 1 goes into service, it will become a part of that program as well. To learn more, visit the MPW website.