PALO, Iowa - The study by the Nuclear Energy Institute says the Duane Arnold Energy Center produces about 8 percent of Iowa’s total electricity. It says for every $1 of output from the plant, the local economy produces $1.23, for a total economic impact of $255,000,000 statewide. Governor Terry Branstad was at the plant Wednesday for an event unveiling the study’s findings.
As a facility that employs about 600 full-time workers and provides around $246,000,000 in local economic growth, Governor Branstad said Duane Arnold is one of the state’s crown jewels of clean energy production.
“These jobs you have here at this plant pay more than double the average wage in Benton County, and more than 50 percent more than the average wage in Linn County,” Branstad announced.
However, as the plant celebrates its 40th birthday, site Vice President Rich Anderson said the question of longevity is coming into play.
“I think as the current plants reach 60 years of life, there will have to be a decision if we go for life beyond 60, and maybe another 20 year extension,” Anderson said.
The plant’s license expires in 2034, and its long-term purchasing power agreement with Alliant Energy now stretches into 2025.
“Having the long-term purchase power agreement with Alliant ensures that we have a predictable, stable income, and allows us to project out over the remaining portion of life, and that we’ll be a positive value cash flow for the company,” Anderson explained.
Branstad said even though the permitting process for nuclear power plants is extremely expensive, there’s hope for more of them to be built in the future, with other types of energy coming under increasing scrutiny.
“I think in the future we’re going to see more of this,” Branstad told reporters. “Obviously the EPA is really making it difficult for the coal-generated plants.”
With the plant’s individual components being continually upgraded, Anderson said the plant as a whole has aged gracefully.
“We have incorporated new technologies, better techniques such as alignment torquing, the ability to do oil analysis, thermography, that just didn’t exist 40 years ago.”