Iowa's largest solar farm opens near Kalona - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa's largest solar farm opens near Kalona

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Tucked away between some farm fields near Kalona, you'll find Iowa's largest solar energy farm. It generates enough energy to power 120 homes.

Farmers Hen House ships organic eggs across the country -- and soon, the plant will be 100 percent powered by solar energy.

"We sell organic and natural products to a lot of our customers, and we're interested in renewables and that kind of thing, and so it fits perfectly from that," said Ryan Miller, owner.

It's because the plant is part of the Farmers Electric Cooperative and so close to its new solar farm, which developers say is three times larger than any other in the state of Iowa.

"Eventually, the utilities are going to catch on and make this a part of their energy matrix, and you're going to see solar fields that are just gonna dwarf this," said Barry Shear, president of Eagle Point Solar, a solar energy developer.

Farmers Electric has 650 members and wants to generate 15 percent of its power locally.

"We want to keep our dollars in the community, so we're not really looking at the environmental impact as much as some do," said Warren McKenna, general manager of Farmers Electric Cooperative. "It's more (about) keeping our resources local."

Others are looking at the environmental impact. Solar farms like this mean less carbon pollution. Many feel more of these farms will be popping up across the state in coming years.

While most of the energy created at the farm will be put into the cooperative's electric grid and mixed with the rest of the power, people at Farmers Hen House are excited to get to operate completely off the farm's energy.

Farmers Electric's goal is to expand the solar farm to double the size over the course of the next 10 years.

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