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Massive CR Solar Project

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)  At a time when the price of almost every form of energy is steadily climbing, some Iowa business owners are deciding their future will be brighter if they turn to the sun.

At Kirkwood Court Apartments, near the college campus, at first glance it looks like a shiny new layer of shingles cover the rooftops. But what has passersby doing a double-take is actually solar panels. Work crews are making hay while the sun shines, moving in and out of lift platforms to install 2,000 panels on 27 apartment buildings.

Property CEO Brent Haverkamp says hes a practical environmentalist and has long thought about sustainable buildings for the future and the time just seems right, I think its great for our tenants and great for our employees. Its great for Alliant Energy and really for this entire area to show something of this scale can be accomplished.

The solar collectors are expected to generate nearly 14-Million Kilowatt Hours over the next 25 years. Right now it is considered to be the largest multi-tenant solar system anywhere in the Midwest. Haverkamp says he believes it is a sign of things to come. Large scale projects like this one are still rare in Iowa, primarily because of cost.  Even with state and utility incentives, Haverkamp will invest $1.8 Million.  He says the payback or break-even date using solar will be about ten years.

Brian Allen, Vice President of All Energy Solar, the installation company, says in the past there have been fewer solar projects in the Midwest simply because energy costs are more reasonable.  He says solar has seen tremendous growth on both coasts as the price for electricity continues to rise and he predicts the same thing will begin to happen in Iowa and surrounding states.

While Iowa is now among the top states in the country for wind power, some have considered it a more risky investment compared to California, Arizona, New Mexico and other states which enjoy an abundance of sunny days.  Allen says with the help of incentives and the knowledge that major utilities will provide power on days or weeks when clouds block the power source, more solar projects are coming online, Germany produces a lot of their energy from solar and they receive less hours of usable sunlight than Iowa does, so combined with the cooler temps we receive here, solar is a fantastic way to produce electricity.

Haverkamp says while solar on the rooftops may not cut the cost of rent at his apartments, hes confident it will hold down rising costs in the future and be a plus for tenants who are dedicated to doing their part for the environment. The final solar panels should be installed by the end of June.  



 
 
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