The chair of the Iowa Utilities Board has issued a decision giving conditional approval for Alliant Energy’s proposed 650-megawatt electric plant in Marshalltown. Utilities Board spokesman, Rob Hillesland says this completes one part of the process of building the new plant. “Basically, the choice is up to the utility now how they want to proceed,” Hillesland says.
The conditional approval sets some guidelines for the plant, which Hillesland says includes the amount the company can spend to build it. “An overall cost cap of 920-million for construction of the plant and all necessary transmission and all other costs associated with the plant,” Hillesland explains.
He says the cost cap was set after a lot of discussion.”That’s based on all the evidence that was heard from parties in the case, and also a recommendation from the Office of Consumer Advocate and other parties, and taking all that into account,” Hillesland says. “The board’s decision order goes into that in greater detail about that decision.”
The board also is recommending Alliant, and its subsidiary Interstate Power and Light Company, receive an 11-percent return on their investment. “IPL originally proposed an 11.25- percent ROE for the Marshalltown generating station, and an 11-percent ROE is was initially recommended by the Office of Consumer Advocate,” Hillesland says.
He points out the 11-percent figure simply allows the company the opportunity to earn a return on its investment. “It’s not a guarantee of return,” Hillesland says, “if expenses exceed projections or sales fall below projections, or some combination of both, the utility may not reach the authorized return on equity.”
Friday’s conditional approval sets in motion a couple timelines for the project. There is a 15-day period that allows for an appeal by one of the groups involved in the process. Hillesland says the Utilities Board would then act on any appeal. The clock has also started for the company, which has 30 days to decide whether it will move ahead with plans to build the plant.
For more information, see the Utilities Board decision order at: efs.iowa.gov/cs/groups/external/documents/docket/mdaw/mja3/~edisp/207077.pdf.
Alliant Energy released this statement:
“We are pleased that the order supports the need for MGS and that its construction would benefit our customers for years to come,” said Tom Aller, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility company. “We are currently evaluating the details of today’s order.” The company is in the process of attaining other state and federal permitting approvals necessary to construct and operate the MGS. The IUB’s approval is conditional on receiving these permits. Pending all regulatory approvals, the company expects to begin construction in 2014 and begin operations in 2017.