Alliant proposes 10 percent rate hike for Iowa customers
• BY JEFF MONTGOMERY firstname.lastname@example.org
Alliant Energy subsidiary Interstate Power & Light Co. in April will file for a rate increase that would increase the average customer’s monthly bill by more than 10 percent
Joel Schmidt, vice president of regulatory affairs for Alliant, said this is the first time since 2010 the utility has filed for a base rate increase. If approved, it would not take full effect until early 2018.
The average residential customer pays $113 per month, he said. Such a customer would pay $12 to $14 more per month for the base rate once the increase takes full effect. Rates also would increase for commercial customers.
“The increases will vary depending on the type of customers but not by location,” he said.
Company officials point to a pair of factors when explaining the proposed increase.
“There are two main reasons we are looking at (a rate increase),” Schmidt said. “It is really about modernizing and maintaining our grid … and it is also about funding a lot of our investments in cleaner energy, primarily with the opening of our Marshalltown facility.”
The Marshalltown Generating Station is expected to come online April 1, he said. The 650-megawatt, natural-gas-fired facility will be capable of generating power for 500,000 homes, according to Alliant’s website. The opening of the facility will coincide with Alliant’s retirement of older coal-fired units that are no longer cost-effective to operate, the website states.
Formerly a coal-powered facility, the power plant in Dubuque was converted to natural gas in 2011. Alliant spokesman Scott Reigstad said the company now plans to close this facility by the end of May.
“We have been working on plans to retire that facility since 2010 and originally announced that it would close at end of 2014,” he said. “For reliability reasons, we ended up extending that.”
Once the facility closes, it will undergo a “de-commissioning process” that could take up to two years. This will include an asbestos-removal process lasting six to eight months, followed by the teardown.
In addition to funding this new station in Marshalltown, a rate increase would help Alliant maintain its expansive grid in the state, Schmidt said.
Alliant provides services to 83 of Iowa’s 99 counties and maintains 20,000 miles of overhead and underground transmission lines in the state, according to Schmidt.
Customers served by Alliant Energy in Wisconsin would not be affected by these proposed increases.
Schmidt said the utility plans to file for a base rate increase on April 3 with the Iowa Utilities Board.
In an email to the Telegraph Herald, Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Donald Tormey said the board reaches a decision on such requests “usually within 10 months from the date of application.”
Schmidt said rate changes would take effect in two phases, with an interim increase going into effect 10 days after the request is filed. This increase would add $2 to $4 to residents’ bills per month, Schmidt estimated.
The rest of the increase would take effect if and when the utilities board approves the application.
Although an application has not been submitted, Tormey confirmed that multiple customer comment meetings have been set throughout Iowa. They include one scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at Peosta Community Centre.
Schmidt emphasized that a rate increase would allow Alliant Energy to increase its commitment to renewable energy expansion this year.
In July, Alliant announced a $1 billion expansion of a wind farm in Franklin County, an initiative that ultimately will add up to 500 megawatts of clean energy. Schmidt said the utility likely will seek permission to add another 400 megawatts this year.