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Largest Solar Farm Opens in Iowa

KALONA, IA (CBS2/FOX28)--Farmers in Kalona are tapping into new energy efficient technology.

Iowa's largest solar farm opened for business Thursday morning.

Almost three thousand solar panels standing on four acres of land, that's what brought dozens of farmers including Dean Miller out here.

"It's going to create electricity to run our grain dryers, for drying grain, electricity for pumping water for livestock or whatever you use electricity for," he said.

Those are some of the benefits from what is now Iowa's largest solar farm.

It will generate enough energy to power about 120 homes.

"So we're not taking as much off of the grid it's going back into Farmer's Electrics grid and then Farmer's Electric will sell it to the individual farmers," Dean said.

Farmer's Electric Co-op is a group of farmers that buys electric whole sale and then sells it to their customers.

Their goal was to get 15 percent of energy from renewable resources by 2025 but now, "we'll achieve that next year by 2015," said Farmer's Coop General Manager Warren McKenna

They say that's good for the environment. Instead of using energy generated by coal-fired power plants, the solar farm will avoid about 2.1 million pounds of carbon pollution each year.

"Literally everybody benefits and I think in the long run even the utilities benefit because this just takes a bit out of their revenue stream," said Barry Shear, President of Eagle Point Solar.

Farmers like Dean are all for it.

"Your electric bill probably will not be quite as high because Farmer's Electric does not have to buy as much off the grid, that they are purchasing their electricity from," he said.

The project cost 2.2 million dollars and will pay for itself in the next seven the eight years.
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