Alliant to spend $1B on new Iowa wind farm

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, July 29, 2016

Alliant Energy says it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to add 500 megawatts of wind energy to an existing farm in north central Iowa.

Alliant CEO Patricia Kampling announced the project Wednesday with Gov. Terry Branstad in Cedar Rapids, headquarters of Alliant’s Iowa utility, Interstate Power & Light.

“Our customers expect low-cost, clean energy, which is exactly what this project will bring to our communities,” said Doug Kopp, president of Interstate Power & Light. “Wind has no fuel costs and zero emissions, making it a win-win for Iowans and the Iowa economy.”

Interstate Power & Light seeks regulatory approval to expand Whispering Willow, a wind farm in Franklin County that already generates 200 megawatts of renewable energy. The utility also said it may develop wind energy in other areas of the state.

The project would add enough energy to power about 215,000 Iowa homes, the utility said.

Alliant leaders said the company hopes to take advantage of production tax credits that are slated to expire in three years.

Alliant Energy said the project fits into its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent between 2005 and 2030.

The investor owned utility said the project will generate $90 million in property taxes over the 20 years. And it will create more than 1,500 jobs at the height of construction.

Interstate Power and Light has requested regulatory approval for the project. In its request to the Iowa Utilities Board, the utility seeks a 11.5 percent return on equity.

Environmental groups in the state were quick to praise Alliant’s proposal.

“Alliant Energy’s new wind project will continue Iowa’s strong momentum on clean energy leadership,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director at the Iowa Environmental Council, in a statement.

Josh Mandelbaum, staff attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said the project “further cements Iowa’s position as a national renewable energy leader.”

The state received 31.3 percent of its electricity in 2015 from wind generation and leads the nation in the percentage of electricity from wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Alliant’s announcement follows a large investment from MidAmerican Energy, Iowa’s other investor-owned utility.

MidAmerican plans to invest $3.6 billion in building a 2,000 megawatt wind farm in Iowa. It also seeks regulatory approval.

Register reporter Matthew Patane contributed to this story.