Duane Arnold reactor to remain shutdown after storms

We reported in June that Duane Arnold Energy Center was nearing its end of life. The plant was scheduled to cease operations in October of this year. The plant’s cooling towers were damaged during August storms. NextEra Energy Resources, the plant’s majority owner, made the difficult decision to proceed with decommissioning early. Here’s what NextEra had to say about the incident.

“After conducting a thorough assessment of the damage caused by recent severe weather, NextEra Energy Resources has made the decision not to restart the reactor at Duane Arnold Energy Center and to proceed with the previously announced decommissioning plans,” the statement reads. “The strong storms that hit the area on Aug. 10 caused extensive damage to Duane Arnold's cooling towers, and our evaluation found that repairing those towers before the site's previously-scheduled decommissioning on Oct. 30, 2020, was not feasible. As we have done since we announced the decommissioning of Duane Arnold in 2018, we will continue to work with all our employees to minimize the impact of this situation on them and their families.”

Corn Belt Power and its members are 10-percent stakeholders in the plant. Before Corn Belt Power joined Basin Electric Power Cooperative as a Class A member, Duane Arnold made up a large portion of energy supplied to members. Since joining Basin Electric, Corn Belt Power’s generation mix has diversified. Today, the co-op’s 10-percent stake or about 62 megawatts makes up only 1.6 percent of power supplied to members.

“The plant was an important generator for Corn Belt Power in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s,” said Ken Kuyper, executive vice president and general manager, Corn Belt Power Cooperative. “We’re sad to see its early retirement. This decision makes the best sense for all parties involved.”

It will take years before the area where the plant is located will return to green fields. Until that time, plant employees will continue to monitor and guard the facility.