Grinnell College blown off course on campus wind energy project


The John H. T. Main Residence Hall on the Grinnell College campus. (Wikimedia)
The John H. T. Main Residence Hall on the Grinnell College campus. (Wikimedia)

Nick Fetty | October 28, 2014

Plans for a 5.1-megawatt wind farm on the Grinnell College campus have come to a halt after officials with the college and its utility provider were unable to reach an agreement.

Officials from Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy said that if the plans for the wind farm were to go through, Alliant would “have to curtail much of the project’s energy production” to accommodate for another wind energy developer which applied for an interconnection agreement before the private liberal arts college which serves approximately 1,721 students. The company, Optimum Energy, would have priority for generating and selling energy back to Alliant, according to Alliant Energy policy.

The Grinnell College Board of Trustees first approved of the plan in February 2011. The $13 million project consisted of a three turbine wind farm which was expected to provide the college with more than half of its energy consumption. Research by Grinnell College alumnus Mia Devine led to the 2007 installation of a wind turbine on the Conard Environmental Research Area, a 365-acre field station about 11 miles west of campus. The wind farm project was based off of similar projects at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

The utility board will examine interconnection issues in an attempt to resurrect the plan but Grinnell College Environmental and Safety Coordinator Chris Bair thinks it is unlikely the project will move forward. Officials with the college have considered other energy alternatives such as solar panels and biogas.

Critics say utility policies hampering sustainability efforts at Luther College


Nick Fetty | June 26, 2014
A wind turbine near the Luther College campus. Photo by Ellen Macdonald; Flickr
A wind turbine near the Luther College campus.
Photo by Ellen Macdonald; Flickr

Officials at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa have proposed a 1.4 MW gas turbine project which could produce half the electricity used on campus each year but current utility rates and policies make this project not feasible.

The project could also provide heat for the campus through a process known as cogeneration. However, officials with the school have determined this project would not be feasible based on current rates that Alliant Energy charges for sporadic use of grid power or “the standby rate.”

Luther College consulted the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago to conduct a feasibility study. The study found that the project would take 55 years to pay for itself based on Alliant Energy’s rates compared to the 15 years it would take based on rates through MidAmerican Energy.

The college currently has numerous sustainability measures such as utilizing wind and solar power as well as recycling and composting. A report by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment states that Luther College has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent since 2003-2004 and Luther was one of five Iowa institutions named as top green schools in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.

Alliant Energy converting Clinton generating station to gas


Photo by Duke Energy; Flickr

Alliant Energy plans to convert the fuel source of the M.L. Kapp Generating Station in Clinton from coal to natural gas in the spring of 2015.

The move is anticipated to reduce the facility’s total nitrogen oxide, particulate, mercury and carbon dioxide emissions and nearly eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions.

To learn more, head over to The Gazette.

Environmental groups say Interstate Power’s energy efficiency plan should be stronger


Photo by John Simonson; Flickr

Environmental groups say the state has failed to push Alliant Energy’s Interstate Power & Light far enough on saving energy over the next five years.

The company says it will invest a total of nearly $400 million from ratepayers to fund energy efficiency efforts, almost the same amount as spent in the previous five years. 

To learn more about the issue, head over to the Des Moines Register. 

On the Radio: Alliant chooses natural gas over coal


Photo by rocketjim54, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode highlights Alliant Energy’s decision to build a natural gas plant in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Influenced by environmental concerns, Alliant Energy has changed their focus from building a coal fire power plant to building a natural gas plant in Marshalltown.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Alliant Energy to built natural gas power plant in Marshalltown


Photo by rocketjim54, Flickr.

Alliant Energy has announced plans to build a power plant in Marshalltown fueled by natural gas. Originally, Alliant wanted to build a coal-fired plant, but they changed their plans due to public outcry.

Alliant also plans to invest $430 million in environmental upgrades at their coal plants in Ottumwa and Lansing.

If Alliant’s plans are approved, the power plant in Marshalltown will open in 2017.

Read more from the Des Moines Register here.

Year’s hottest day prompts record energy usage


Photo by Tessss, Flickr.

Alliant Energy reported record-breaking peak energy usage on Wednesday, the hottest day so far in Iowa’s abnormally hot summer.

The peak usage of 3,724 megawatts occurred at 5pm in Alliant’s “West Control Area,” which covers Iowa and Minnesota. The previous record of 3,699 megawatts was set on July 18th, 2011.

“A number of days with high energy usage this summer remind us that an ample supply of electric generation is critical for our customers today and in the future,” said Tom Aller, president of Interstate Power and Light Company, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy.

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.