Council hears update on Alliant’s gas-fire plant

Alliant’s community liaison spoke to the Marshalltown City Council Monday night, giving it updates on the proposed gas-fire plant slated to be built in Marshalltown.

Ken Vinson, who had previously worked for Alliant, told the council that Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), which owns Alliant, still has 19 permits that need approval before construction can begin on the plant. He said the air quality permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the main permit still needing approval.

However, the project is making headway, he said. Last week and throughout this week, the company will interview the seven bidders, narrowed from a list numbering in the 20s since January, for construction of the plant. Alliant expects to have a contractor for the project by the summer, Vinson said.

Interveners of the project will testify before the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) May 21 at the Iowa Veterans Home on contentions to the construction of the 650 megawatt generating station. Those interveners include the Office of the Consumer Advocate, Iowa Consumer Coalition and the Large Energy Group.

While the Large Energy Group, which is made up of 25 energy companies throughout the state, contest the need for the plant, the main intervener is the Office of the Consumer Advocate.

“There is very little difference between what Alliant is asking for and what the Consumer Advocate is asking for,” Vinson said.

The Consumer Advocate is recommending an 11 percent return on Alliant’s investment while Alliant is requesting an 11.25 percent return.

Vinson said since engineering for the plant has yet to be complete, knowing the exact details of how big or how much it will cost is difficult. The plant will cost roughly $700 to $750 million to build and will be located near the current Sutherland Station, which will be retired at the end of 2014 should the new plant get the green light from the IUB.

Construction on the new station is also scheduled to begin toward the end of 2014. The new station is slated to open in the spring of 2017. Alliant has nearly acquired all the easements for the 20-inch pipeline, Vinson said. The plant’s 60-acre footprint will begin on the extreme southwest of the property in order to hook to the Northern Border line.

“It won’t be located exactly where the current station is,” Vinson said.

If approved, the new gas-fire plant would provide energy for roughly 500,000 homes.

Randy Wetmore, city administrator, said work could begin on the road and sewer infrastructure near 18th Avenue prior to construction breaking ground, but the details of that work would have to wait until Alliant selects a contractor.

The collaboration between the city and Alliant has gone smoothly, Wetmore said. The company hasn’t waited until the last minute before getting in contact with the city on specifications. It has been proactive.

“On a project this size, that will make it easier on everyone,” he said.