The state’s Consumer Advocate is asking the Iowa Utilities Board to say “no” to Interstate Power & Light Company’s request to sell its 70-percent interest in Iowa’s only nuclear power plant. Consumer Advocate John R. Perkins says he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to allow a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light Company to buy the Duane Arnold Energy Center near Palo. He says he made the recommendation on the grounds that “it’s not going to be in the best interest in the long run for the Iowa customers of Interstate Power. It’s our belief that based on the analysis that we’ve done that Interstate selling the plant will cost Iowa ratepayers between 350 and 700 million dollars in extra energy costs through 2034.” Interstate Power is owned by Alliant Energy Corporation, a holding company based in Madison, Wisconsin. Perkins says the company would end up buying power produced at Duane Arnold. He says they have a purchase agreement to buy power from the nuclear plant through 2014. After that he says Interstate would have to buy power on the open market or start a new plant. Perkins says their analysis shows even with the purchase agreement the cost of power would go up for Iowans if Duane Arnold is sold. Interstate has said it will not renew it’s license for the plant in 2014 if it’s not sold. Perkins says regulators could take action if that’s the case. He says the utilities board does have the power to penalize the company for “imprudent management decisions” and can deny rate hike requests. Perkins says his office would pursue penalties if Interstate tries to shut down the plant. He says they’d ask the utilities board to disallow any rate increases and to impose imprudent management penalties on the company. Perkins’ says the sale is structured so Alliant, would receive over 109-million dollars in the form of an extraordinary dividend if the sale is approved. Perkins it’s clear though that “any efficient and prudently run utility would want to keep a low-cost generating unit like the Duane Arnold plant in its fleet of generating plants as long as possible in order to enhance and promote substantial local economic development in the utility’s service territory to the benefit of customers and shareholders alike.” Interstate provides service to several Iowa cities such as: Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Marion, Boone, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Ottumwa, Osceola, Newton, Grinnell, Creston, Dubuque, Clinton, Centerville, Spirit Lake, and Mason City.
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