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Alliant Energy to recoup cost of green energy investments

Alliant Energy customers will see a bump in their bills as early as April. The increase to the energy base rate comes as Alliant Energy seeks to recoup the cost of its investment in improved infrastructure.

“We’ve been making investments here for several years that advance clean energy and bring more customer service options, tools and reliable energy to our customers in Iowa,” said Justin Foss, spokesperson for Alliant Energy.

On March 1, Alliant Energy filed a proposal with The Iowa Utilities Board to be able to recover the cost of those assets and investments.

While the notice shows an increase of at least $20 per month, Foss said the increase to the base rate will be 2 percent in 2019 and 5 percent in 2020, which is an average increase of $8 (2019) and $12 (2020) a month, based on a “typical” residential bill of $116.

Despite the increase to the energy base rate, Foss said customers will see other line items on their bill decrease, such as fuel and transmission costs.

“But, unfortunately, the notice only talks about base rate,” said Foss.

Foss said one of the greatest advantages of wind energy is that the fuel to make the electrons is free.

“Traditional resources that we have used for years require a fuel and there is a cost to that, whether that is coal or gas or nuclear ... so, as our wind farms come online, and operate for a full year and all of them come together ... 2021 is really when customers are going to see the biggest impact of that. They will see lower energy or fuel costs on their bill,” said Foss.

Foss said he expects the approval of Alliant Energy’s new energy efficiency plan, and customers can expect a savings on the gas portion of their bills down the road as a result.

“Once that gets approved, customers will see a drop in their utility bill, in their gas bill from 2018 to 2019. We’re expecting about an $11 drop,” said Foss.

Foss said a typical monthly gas bill in 2018 was $65, which would drop to $54 a month under the new plan. However, once the energy portion of the bill is factored in, the total cost would be $61.

“Even though we’re adding for the base rate, because of the savings we’re adding to the other side of the bill, it’s still lower in 2020, than it would be in 2018,” he said.

Expansion plan

Alliant Energy’s infrastructure investments are part of a $1.8 billion expansion to add more wind energy to serve Iowa customers by lowering fuel costs – an estimated $60 million in fuel cost savings by 2020.

The Iowa Utilities Board is reviewing the proposal and has 10 months to make a final decision. Over the next two months, the board will host customer comment meetings, with the first taking place 5:30 p.m. April 11 at Southwestern Community College Performing Arts Center located within Southern Prairie YMCA, 1501 W. Townline St.

“We’re constantly looking for ways we can continue to make investments so that we can have a safe and reliable system, but also find ways to change processes and make improvements to lower costs where we can,” said Foss.

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