Without energy, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be much to look forward to

A lengthy list of ingredients goes into every traditional holiday meal, and energy’s just about the least expensive.

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We’re thankful we’re able to power holiday celebrations for more than one million customers. Without electricity and gas, cooking on Thanksgiving would be impractical at best and nearly impossible at worst.

The cost of a turkey feast changes every year. The same is true for the cost of energy needed to cook the meal. This year, the American Farm Bureau Federation figures the average Thanksgiving meal for 10 people will cost $49.87.

Depending on your appliances and where you live, the average electricity cost to make Thanksgiving this year is $1.69. If you are using gas appliances, the average cost is $0.43.

Thanksgiving meal Electricity cost Natural gas cost
16 lb. stuffed turkey roasted for 3.5 hours $0.96 $0.25
Pan of mashed potatoes cooked on the stove for 20 minutes $0.11 $0.02
Giblet gravy cooked on the stove for 10 minutes $0.06 $0.01
Dinner rolls baked for 30 minutes $0.14 $0.04
Green bean casserole baked for 30 minutes $0.14 $0.04
Two pumpkin pies baked for one hour $0.28 $0.07
Total energy cost $1.69 $0.43

Here are nine energy tips to make your Thanksgiving dinner prep and cleanup easier and faster.

  • Let the furnace rest. If your holiday cooking doesn’t heat up your house, your guests will. Turn your thermostat down three to five degrees to save energy while staying comfortable.
  • Skip the preheating. The turkey is traditionally stuffed early in the morning and roasted for hours. When cooking meats or dishes for several hours, there is no need to preheat your oven.
  • Use glass or ceramic pans. They heat faster than metal pans, and you can lower the temperature by 25 degrees, reducing energy use.
  • Cooking together saves energy. Cook as much of your meal at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can be cooked together, if the temperature difference is less than 25 degrees.
  • Shut the oven door. This Thanksgiving, resist the urge to open the oven door and check the meal. Each opening of the door will decrease the temperature inside by 25 degrees. This means your oven has to use more energy to stay on temperature.
  • Coast to the finish. Food keeps cooking even after you turn off the burner. When food is almost ready, turn off the oven or burners and let existing heat finish the cooking for you.
  • Don’t overlook the microwave. Efficient microwaves use about half the energy of conventional ovens.
  • Clean while it’s hot. If your oven needs a self-cleaning cycle, do it while the oven is still hot.
  • Run a full load. Fill your dishwasher and you will use less hot water than doing them by hand.

Alliant Energy to advance wind project in Iowa

Customers and communities to benefit from low-cost, renewable energy

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – October 27, 2016 – Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility is moving forward with its New Wind Project, which will bring up to 500 megawatts of new wind generation to Iowa. That’s enough to power 215,000 homes.

Alliant Energy is currently working with landowners in Franklin County near its existing Whispering Willow Wind Farm, as well as exploring opportunities to develop in other areas of the state. Construction could start as soon as next year. Alliant Energy expects to place 250 megawatts in service in 2019 and the rest in 2020.

“The New Wind Project will benefit our customers, our communities and the state,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility. “The wind turbines will generate clean, cost-effective energy for customers. They also create tax revenue for communities, and bring construction jobs and economic growth to the state, making this a win-win project.”

On October 25, the Iowa Utilities Board issued a final order regarding the New Wind Project. The order approves, with limited modifications, the settlement between Alliant Energy and customer groups, which was filed on October 12, 2016.

The New Wind Project will help the company economically meet its customers’ energy need, by maximizing the value of renewable energy tax credits and taking advantage of favorable wind turbine pricing.

“We want to thank our community partners in Franklin County. We also want to thank the Iowa Utilities Board for its work and the organizations that came together to advance this application toward approval. They include the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Iowa Business Energy Coalition, the Large Energy Group, the Iowa Environmental Council and the Environmental Law and Policy Center,” said Kopp. “Through our work together, we are helping to advance clean energy while providing low-cost, reliable energy solutions to our customers.”

More information is available at alliantenergy.com/whisperingwillow.

Iowa Utilities Board order terms:

 

  • The ratemaking principles apply to any new wind facility constructed as part of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility’s New Wind Project that qualifies for 100% of the federal Production Tax Credits, regardless of its location in Iowa, up to 500 megawatts.
  • Cost cap: $1,830/kilowatt, including allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC) and transmission costs
  • Return on common equity: 11%, with the exception of certain transmission facilities classified as intangible assets, which shall earn the rate of return on equity authorized by the Iowa Utilities Board in a future rate case
  • Return on common equity used in calculating the AFUDC rate to be the higher of the outcome of the next rate case or 10%
  • Depreciable life of 40 years, unless changed as a result of a contested case before the Iowa Utilities Board
  • Alliant Energy’s Iowa customers shall be entitled to the full value of any environmental attributes, beyond those needed for compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, associated with investment included in Alliant Energy’s Iowa jurisdictional rate base
  • Alliant Energy is permitted to include in Iowa rates the actual cost of the wind project up to the cost cap without need to establish prudence, but required to establish the prudence of any cost in excess of the cost cap
  • Cancellation costs: recovery of prudently incurred and unreimbursed costs, if applicable, amortized over 10 years

You can still light the night pink!

pink-bulb-giveawayIn Cedar Rapids on Thursday we were proud to join forces with Mercy Medical Center to light the night pink. The Power of Pink event marks the arrival of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to promote awareness and early detection.

pink-lightWe gave away energy-saving, compact pink fluorescent light bulbs. Those receiving the light bulbs are encouraged to put them in their porch lights for the month of October as a reminder to get screened for breast cancer.

 

 

 

Are you ready for cooler weather? Seal and save

Energy-efficient homes are more comfortable and have lower energy costs. People often think insulation is key when it comes to making your home more comfortable and efficient. Insulation is important, but by itself, it isn’t enough. The most important tip for a comfortable home is air sealing, and you can do it yourself in a weekend for less than $100.

What you need

  • Caulk or a tub of duct mastic for small gaps. These work well because they will flex with the building material in hot and cold weather. Plus, mastic doesn’t require a clean surface to stick.
  • Expandable foam sealant for larger gaps. Note that foam sealant must be applied to a clean surface and could leak through to the living space.
  • Additional insulation.

Where to sealair-sealing

Anywhere there is or could be a hole to the outside is a good place to seal, including:

  • Electrical boxes
  • Ceiling lights or fans
  • Chimney chase ways
  • Laundry chutes
  • Sewer vents
  • Bath ventilation

Get to work

In each area, move away the existing insulation and use your sealants to fill in the holes. Make time to do a thorough job, or you won’t see the benefits. Finish up by replacing the insulation you moved and adding even more if possible. A home that is poorly insulated and unsealed can cost 30% more to heat and cool compared to a home that is well sealed and insulated.

Apology to our customers in Iowa

We want to apologize for our billing process this summer. We let many of you down.

This summer was hotter than normal. Our customers used more energy than last summer. The bills that customers are seeing now are accurate, but they are coming as a big surprise. We are sorry for this surprise. We were not expecting this either.

The problem

Many of you received estimated bills recently. This is not because our meter readers or our meters didn’t do their job. Our meters and our meter readers do a great job. They are very accurate.

Our computer system checks your monthly usage against previous usage. This review catches possible mistakes in the meter reading process. Each time the system finds usage that is a lot higher or lower than normal it sends the bill to a representative to manually review it. This is done hundreds of times a day.

We recently installed a new billing system. This system has more reviews and checks to make sure customers are accurately billed. One of those reviews includes a tighter look at current energy usage.

This summer was very hot and our customers used more energy than normal. In response, our new system sent more bills than ever before to billing representatives. Unfortunately, we weren’t expecting this. Despite working overtime, we didn’t have enough representatives available to review all of the bills.

Because we couldn’t review the bill, which was accurate, the system automatically sent an estimated bill. The estimation is designed to protect customers from inaccurate bills. In years past, there were fewer bills that needed to be verified. Our employees were able to contact customers directly to let them know about the corrected bill, and setup a payment arrangement if needed.

Again, despite working overtime and hiring more employees, we weren’t able to answer all incoming calls, and also call customers proactively regarding their estimated bills. Many of you were caught by surprise. We are very sorry.

The fix

Here are specific measures we’re taking:

  • We are adjusting our processes to prevent multi-month estimation during periods of extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • We are here to help you spread out the bill over the next 12 months. Please call us at 1-800-ALLIANT(800-255-4268). We are available 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There is no negative impact to your account standing with us or your credit score for setting up a payment arrangement.
  • We have temporarily stopped the disconnection process for customers who are impacted by this.
  • We are waiving late payment fees for affected customers.
  • We are aggressively recruiting more employees.

We live and work here. Many people were affected by this, including our own employees. We will fix this, and we won’t let this happen again.

 

We’ve added more counties eligible for special rebate assistance for flood-affected customers

More flooding in eastern Iowa has prompted us to expand flood rebate assistance to fourteen more counties hit by flooding.  We are increasing rebates by 50 percent to flood-affected customers to help offset the financial impact of replacing equipment due to the flooding.

The list of counties now include: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Howard, Linn, Mitchell, Winneshiek, Worth and Wright. The increase applies to equipment purchased August 23, 2016 – December 31, 2016.

“We understand that starting over after a flood is challenging. We want to do our part to help our customers recover,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility.

This is not the first time we have increased rebates for flooding. We offered $614,377 in rebates during the 2008 floods. The increased rebates in 2008 helped offset nearly 2,200 homes, businesses and farms rebuilding after the flood.

More information about rebates and required documentation can be found at alliantenergy.com/floodrebates. Customers can also call 1-866-ALLIANT (866-255-4268).

Alliant Energy advises caution around flooded homes and businesses

With severe flooding happening and predicted in Iowa and Wisconsin, Alliant Energy is giving a few reminders to keep customers safe.

“To keep everyone safe, we may need to shut off electric and gas service in affected neighborhoods. If you anticipate flooding based on National Weather Service predictions, you can expect electric and gas service interruptions until your home or business is ready to safely reoccupy,” said Mark Hawley, director of Safety.

Walking through a wet or flooded home or building can be dangerous. Alliant Energy advises people to use extreme caution in this situation and offers the following guidelines to ensure safety.

  • Never walk through a flooded home or building until the electricity is disconnected. Even a small amount of water on the floor of your basement can put you at risk for electrocution.
  • Call Alliant Energy to have service disconnected at the meter. If there is standing water in your home or business, call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268) to have power disconnected before you step into any standing water. Once the power is disconnected, it’s safe to begin clean up.
  • Call Alliant Energy to have your natural gas turned off. Standing water can snuff out pilot lights on hot water heaters and furnaces. If this occurs, natural gas may collect in your home, creating the risk of an explosion.
  • Have a licensed electrician inspect your electrical system before calling to be reconnected.
  • Have your furnace and water heater inspected by a heating or appliance and service repair contractor before calling to be reconnected. Gas appliance manufacturers recommend replacing appliance parts that have been under water.

If you smell gas:

  • Do not attempt to locate gas leaks.
  • Do not remain in your home or business when there is a strong gas odor.
  • Leave the property and call 911 or Alliant Energy from a safe location, keep others away until area is safe.
  • Do not operate any electrical device, including phones, garage door opener, radios, TVs, computers, or anything that creates a flame like matches or a lighter.
  • Do not turn on or turn off any lights or electrical switches.
  • Do not use telephones of any type, including cordless, cell or landline.
  • Do not position or operate vehicles and power equipment where leaking gas may be present.
  • Do not touch any fallen power lines and never touch anything in contact with a downed line.

Alliant Energy will not charge you to have your service turned off when flooding occurs, or turned back on after the cleanup is done.

For more information, visit alliantenergy.com/floodsafety.