Alliant Energy officials say they need to build a new power plant, and Illinois is a more attractive state for the project than Iowa. Alliant Energy spokesman John Ruff says present Iowa law is too tough. He says they need to “get iron in the ground” soon. He says Iowa law is too cumbersome to allow companies to quickly build new plants.Ruff says the utility will make a decision within a month — an announcement that puts pressure on Iowa lawmakers to re-consider a bill which would ease regulations for building new power plants in Iowa. That bill stalled in the Legislature, but could be considered in a special session in June.Ruff says in the past 10 years, Alliant Energy’s customer demand for electricity has gone up 30 percent, and they have to decide if they want to build plants in Iowa or purchase energy from other states. Alliant has 450-thousand customers in Iowa — about a million in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.The head of Iowa’s House Commerce Committee hopes lawmakers listen to Alliant’s threat. A bill lifting some regulations and making the process of getting state permits for a power plant easier stalled in the Senate. It passed the House, where Representative Brad Hansen, a republican from Carter Lake, heads the Commerce Committee. Hansen says it’s the kind of bill California should have looked at ten years ago. Iowa has enough electricity now, but Hansen says it won’t within six years. Hansen disputes charges that the measure’s nothing but “back-door” deregulation. He says it provides regulatory certainty for companies looking to line up money to build plants.Critics say the bill will let companies come in, build power plants and pass along all the costs to Iowa consumers, ensuring big profits for the utilities.
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