Could the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant in Palo be on the verge of re-opening? The CEO of the company that owns the plan says it is a possibility.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that NextEra Energy CEO John Ketchum stated in an interview this month that he had inquiries from potential data center customers who were interested in the 600 megawatts of power generated from the plant in Palo. Ketchum stated simply, "I would consider it, if it could be done safely and on budget." The Gazette reports that a retired engineer said that if the plant was restarted it could provide more renewable energy than wind and solar projects.

Duane Arnold opened in 1974. It employed more than 500 people when it closed in August of 2020. Big tech companies opening data centers across the nation, including here in Iowa, are looking to secure electricity, between 1 and 5 gigawatts in some areas.

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The Gazette asked NextEra to comment on the statement by its CEO. The Florida-based company stated that Duane Arnold is being shut down. It also said that it has not done a study of the feasibility of restarting operations at Duane Arnold. But restarting a nuclear power plant isn't unheard of. The Gazette reports that the U.S. Department of Energy is funding the restart of a nuclear plant in Western Michigan that shut down in 2022.

Linn County Emergency Management officials told the Gazette that they have not heard anything from NextEra about restarting Duane Arnold. Officials also note that getting relicensed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could be timely and expensive.

The bottom line? Don't expect nuclear power to return to Eastern Iowa anytime soon.

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