Author Archives: Alliant Energy News

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.

Income-eligible customers can get help with heating or weatherizing homes

Customers with low to moderate household incomes are eligible to receive heating assistance.

Funding from the Energy Assistance program can help pay heating bills or weatherize your home.

To find out if you are eligible:

We encourage customers to apply now because funds for this heating season are limited.

Eligibility for Energy Assistance is not affected by utility account or home ownership status.

Public safety gets a boost from the Alliant Energy Foundation

Public safety efforts in 24 communities received $24,700 from the Alliant Energy Foundation.

HSG

A group of preschool students toured the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department and met Sparky, an animatronic mascot that teaches kids about fire safety. Jeff Beavers, far right, is an Alliant Energy gas mechanic, and a 40-year veteran and assistant chief of the fire department.

The Foundation provides Hometown Safety Grants to assist communities in protecting public health and safety. The grants help defray the costs of life-saving and other protective equipment.

Examples include defibrillators in public buildings; community emergency alert systems or personal protective equipment for public safety personnel.

HSG table

Hometown Safety Grants are awarded for specific, one-time, safety-related projects that benefit a wide range of people and can be completed within one year. For more information, visit alliantenergy.com/foundation

The Alliant Energy Foundation is funded solely by Alliant Energy shareowners.

 

Alliant Energy announces new Upland Prairie Wind Farm

IMG_0230Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company continues moving toward a cleaner energy future with the start of major construction on its next wind farm in spring 2018. The company finalized an agreement with Apex Clean Energy for Upland Prairie Wind Farm. The 300-megawatt project is located in Clay and Dickinson counties in northwest Iowa.

“We are bringing more clean and cost-competitive wind energy to our customers,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “If our second wind expansion project is approved, one third of our energy in Iowa will be from wind, starting in 2020.”

This project will add construction and other jobs, as well as tens of millions of dollars in additional property taxes to the local communities and lease payments to landowners.

“Apex wind projects are designed to meet the needs of forward-thinking utilities such as Alliant Energy,” said Mark Goodwin, president and CEO of Apex. “We share the same priorities, especially strong community partnerships.”

Alliant Energy received approval in 2016 to add up to 500 megawatts of wind energy. The company has requested a similar expansion from the Iowa Utilities Board again in 2017. The combined projects would represent a $1.8 billion investment and add 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.

Upland Prairie Wind Farm facts:

  • Number of turbines: 121
  • Size of project: 300 megawatts
  • Annual energy output: enough for about 130,000 homes a year
  • Local tax benefits: more than $40 million over the life of the project
  • Landowner payments: approximately $45 million for the next 25 years

Let your nose be your guide

How do you raise awareness about natural gas leaks? Bring the smell directly to the people.

gas scratch and sniff 2017_edited

Alliant Energy’s scratch-and-sniff bill insert contains the smell of natural gas.

Alliant Energy is including a scratch-and-sniff bill insert containing the smell of natural gas in customers’ utility bills in the coming month. Under normal conditions, you may never be exposed to its smell. We’re sending out these special brochures so our customers can experience the odor in a safe way – it’ll help them better recognize a natural gas leak or emergency in the future.

“Because natural gas is colorless and has no scent, we add a strong odorant  to help you detect a possible gas leak,” said Richard Sublett, Senior Manager Compliance & Operational Performance.

The odorant, called mercaptan, contains sulfur, which mimics the smell of rotten eggs.

“Whenever anyone smells natural gas at their home or business, they should immediately leave the area and from a safe distance call 1-800-ALLIANT (1-800-255-4268),” Sublett said.

 

Alliant Energy crews to assist with Hurricane Irma response

Crew departing for Florida

Senica Fisher, line mechanic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of roughly 200 workers preparing to head to Florida to help restore power to those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Alliant Energy trucks will hit the road early Tuesday morning to assist in the massive effort to restore power across Florida following Hurricane Irma.

In total, roughly 200 personnel from Iowa and Wisconsin have volunteered to spend the next two weeks away from their families to help the restoration efforts. This group includes line workers, safety staff, vehicle mechanics, support staff and managers.

Our personnel and contractors are joining more than 18,000 utility crews from across 30 states and Canada working to restore power to more than 6 million people.

In addition, tree trimmers and other contractors paused their work for our customers to lend their expertise to the recovery.

Florida utilities requested help through a national mutual assistance program among utilities. Typically, power companies close to an event respond. In this case, some local energy companies are already assisting with the response to Hurricane Harvey, and the damage from Hurricane Irma was so extensive that the request for help extended to energy companies in the Midwest.

Our customers have benefited from this assistance when major storms hit our area. The most recent examples occurred in Iowa with the ice storm of 2007 and the floods of 2008. The last time our crews were needed in other parts of the country was 2012 when Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast.

We balance providing help with the need to keep enough staff on hand in the event of storms here. Our customers do not pay for the costs of this mutual assistance. The costs are borne by the utilities that request help.

Updates on our efforts will be posted here and on our Facebook page.