Iowa Utilities Board hears objections to Alliant gas-fire plant

Interveners of the proposed Alliant gas-fire plant gave testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board Tuesday morning at the Iowa Veterans Home, stating their objections to specific areas of the plant’s construction.

Representatives from the Large Energy Group, Office of the Consumer Advocate, Iowa Consumers Coalition, and CornBelt/CIPCO were present for the hearing.

The Large Energy Group, represented by Terri Davis, raised issue with the cost effectiveness of building a station in Marshalltown as opposed to transmitting it from other states like Illinois.

The evidentiary hearing is part of the regulatory process to build the proposed 600 megawatt generating station.

Randy Bauer, director of asset strategy at Alliant, said Marshalltown ranked so much higher than other areas during the company’s site study that even with pipeline installation and other costs, the site near Alliant’s current Sutherland Station was still a better choice.

Davis also took issue with the stipulation that the capacity factor – how much of the plant’s potential output is being achieved – ranged from 15 to 50 percent.

Bauer agreed that, when the plant first starts generating electricity, its output would likely be closer to the lower end of that scale.

Ryan Stensland, spokesperson for Alliant, said the percent used will be left up to the Midwest Independent System Transmission Operator.

“We anticipate, the way current trends are, those natural gas facilities will be used more often in the upcoming years,” Stensland said.

If approved, the $750 million natural gas station would go online in 2017 and provide electricity to roughly 500,000 customers.

According to documents provided by Alliant, the company has recently reached an agreement with the OCA regarding the siting certification and ratemaking principals, settling on the 11 percent return the OCA recommended as opposed to Alliant’s 11.25 percent request.

Stensland said although the company settled on the 11 percent, it is still above the 10 percent average return.

“We feel real confident that the investors that put money up for the project will be compensated for the risk they took,” he said.

The IUB is set to make a decision regarding whether the construction of the plant can move forward by the end of this year.