Stay safe at home; keep meters clear of snow and ice

Parts of our service area have seen heavy snowfalls in the past week.Clearing snow gas meter

It’s vital for your safety to keep your meters and vents clear of snow and ice.

Vents for natural gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.

To take proper care of your appliances  and equipment, use a broom to keep natural gas service equipment clear during the winter. Kicking or using a shovel could damage the equipment.

A qualified professional should check your gas appliances annually. Inspections keep gas appliances safe and efficient, and reduce risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Alliant Energy crews recognized for recovery work after Hurricane Irma

Alliant Energy employees are getting recognition for travelling to Florida to help the millions of people affected by Hurricane Irma last year.

Today, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) presented us with an Emergency Assistance Award for outstanding effort to help people affected by the disaster.

“This award recognizes the sacrifice that all of our employees made to help out. Whether it was spending a week away from family down in Florida or working extra hours to support our own system and customers, our employees are amazing,” said Doug Kopp, Senior Vice President of Operations. “Back home, our customers see this dedication every day.”

The award is presented to EEI member companies to recognize an outstanding response in assisting other electric companies in power restoration efforts after service has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

“When disaster impacts a region, electric companies from across the nation are called on to assist impacted companies in need – mutual assistance is a hallmark of our industry,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “When Hurricane Irma struck, Alliant Energy answered the call to help. Alliant Energy’s assistance to restore service to impacted customers is a terrific example of mutual assistance in action.”

Alliant Energy’s response, by the numbers:

  • 218 employees travelled to Florida
  • 366,000 miles driven

Consumers beware! Alliant Energy reports record number of scam complaints in December

Alliant Energy has received a record number of customers reporting scam phone calls.  Customers also report that scammers are getting better at impersonating utilities. We received a few complaints that some are sending text messages or coming right to your door.

From January 2016 to November 2017, we received on average 53 contacts per month reporting scam activity.

Since December 1, 2017, we have received 415 reports of scam phone calls. Of these:

  • 150 have come from Wisconsin customers
  • 265 have come from Iowa customers

Roughly 75 percent of complaints come from business customers. The rest are from residential customers.

Typically, scammers call customers claiming to represent Alliant Energy. They threaten to disconnect utility service if the customer doesn’t immediately buy a prepaid credit card to make a payment.

In one case, a customer reported receiving a text message from someone stating that they work for Alliant Energy and needed a call about their bill.

Alliant Energy does not request immediate payment or prepaid credit cards. We do not threaten to disconnect service via text message. We recently began offering account alerts by text as an optional service. Customers must sign-up to receive them. They are informational only, providing reminders of when the bill is due.

If you receive a call like this:

  • STOP: Scammers are counting on people being too alarmed to verify their account status. Do not give in to high-pressure call tactics! Stop the conversation. Hang up the phone.Call-Center-5361-sil2
  • THINK: Chances are you do not owe the amount the scammers claim. You know your account status best. Think about whether the scammer’s claim about your account sounds true.
  • CALL: Call us to verify your actual account status. If you have a remaining balance, we can tell you the amount and when it is due. Let us put your mind at ease. You can reach us at 1-800-ALLIANT. You can also monitor your account online by visiting alliantenergy.com/myaccount or through Alliant Energy’s new Mobile App. Text ‘APP’ to 255255 and download now, or visit the Apple Store or Google Play.

Beware that scammers can spoof caller-ID displays, which means they can mask the call’s true origin and make it appear as if it the call is coming from a utility company.

Customers should report attempted scam contacts to local law enforcement.

Alliant Energy to build English Farms Wind Farm

Our Iowa customers will get more clean energy with our acquisition of the English Farms Wind Project. Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company finalized an agreement with developer Tradewind Energy for the 170-megawatt project, located in Poweshiek County in central Iowa.

“Wind energy is a win for Iowans,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “The benefits of this project help customers through reductions in emissions and fuel cost. It gives landowners lease payments to help on the farm and it helps communities through increased local tax revenue for schools and community services.”

We will build and own English Farms Wind Farm, with major construction starting in 2018. This is one of several wind farms we are building to deliver cost-competitive, clean energy to customers.

IMG_7925

Wind turbines spin in a foggy morning at Whispering Willow Wind Farm, located in Franklin County, Iowa. This is one of Alliant Energy’s existing wind farms in Iowa.

We received approval in 2016 to add up to 500 megawatts of wind energy in Iowa. We requested a similar wind expansion from the Iowa Utilities Board again in 2017. With these combined projects, customers will get more than one-third of their energy from wind by the end of 2020.

This overall wind expansion represents a roughly $1.8 billion investment and adds up to 1,000 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa. Together, that’s enough to power up to 430,000 Iowa homes a year.

“It has been extremely rewarding to work with Poweshiek County officials, landowners and community members,” said Jeff Hammond, senior development manager for Tradewind Energy. “We are very proud to partner with Alliant Energy, which is contributing to the transformation of Iowa’s electric power supply.”

English Farms Wind Farm facts:

  • Number of turbines: 69
  • Size of project: 170 megawatts
  • Annual energy output: enough for about 50,000 homes a year
  • Local tax benefits: approximately $47 million in the next 30 years
  • Landowner payments: approximately $12 million in the next 30 years

Buy an EV, get a $7,500 tax credit

Still looking for tax benefits in 2017?

Plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) are now viable for most lifestyles and budgets with more than two dozen models now commercially available. If you buy a new, plug-in electric vehicle in 2017, you’re eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

EV workplace charging 2017 MKR-15On average, fueling a car with electricity is roughly the same as fueling with gasoline at $1/gallon.  Nearly 600,000 Americans have made the switch to driving electric.

Plug-in vehicles offer a quiet, smooth and powerful ride. An electric motor provides full torque from a standstill and completely changes the experience of getting onto a fast-moving highway.

 The quality and driving range of electric vehicles have gone up while the prices have come down. The charging network has expanded greatly, and Alliant Energy has rebates for customers on fast charging stations for home and work.

EVs never require a trip to the gas station, tune-ups, transmission repairs, spark plugs or oil changes. Never smell like petroleum again. They have far fewer moving parts than gasoline cars. There is no engine, transmission, spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler or catalytic converter. There are a lot fewer things to break down, so maintenance costs are much lower.

EVs powered by the grid currently produce 54 percent less (lifetime) carbon pollution than gasoline cars. That could grow to 71 percent by 2050 as our power supply gets cleaner.

To get started researching electric vehicles, visit pluginamerica.org.

To view the map of 70,000+ charging stations in the U.S. and Canada, visit plugshare.com.

Winter heating bills may climb slightly with colder weather

We’ve released our winter heating bill estimate for the 2017-18 heating season.

Heating bills are made up of two components:

  • The price of the heating fuel (in this case, natural gas)
  • The amount of the fuel used (driven by how cold the winter is)

Last year’s winter weather was warmer than normal in our region. Customers needed less energy to stay warm and had lower heating bills than normal.

For the 2017-18 heating season, we expect prices to remain at last year’s levels, while weather may be colder and usage may be higher.

furnace works harder

If we experience normal winter weather and the price of natural gas remains where it is today on the spot market, it is estimated that our average residential customer could pay $423 in winter heating costs — 8 percent ($32) more than last winter.

Customers generally use more natural gas for heating if the weather is colder.

We expect the price for natural gas this winter to hold steady at levels similar to last year, based on natural gas already purchased and the current spot market price. The cost of the natural gas is listed on the customer bill – without any markup.

The heating season for this estimate is November through March.

More than 7,500 households got help staying warm last heating season

During the last heating season, more than 7,500 Wisconsin and Iowa households received help with their energy costs thanks to shareowners, customers, employees and retirees of Alliant Energy.Warm Home

Our shareowners are again contributing $2 million to the Hometown Care Energy Fund, which helps income-eligible customers across our service area with heating costs.

During the last heating season, Alliant Energy employees, retirees and customers contributed an additional $210,000.

Cold Midwest winters place an additional burden on limited-income families.

“Our company has a history of partnering with our communities,” said Patricia Kampling, Alliant Energy’s Chairman, President and CEO. “Together, the generosity of customers, our employees and retirees enables Hometown Care to help ensure all of our friends and neighbors have warm homes.”

Funds are distributed to customers by community action agencies in Iowa and by Energy Services Inc.’s Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund in Wisconsin.

Income-eligible Alliant Energy customers can apply for funding as follows:

Alliant Energy’s contribution comes from shareowners and is not paid by our customers.