Alliant Energy Corp. is considering investments in wind power generation in Wisconsin, the company’s CEO said Tuesday, less than a week after the utility announced plans to spend $1 billion on wind projects in Iowa.
Alliant is eyeing up to 500 megawatts of wind power in Iowa, as it looks to capitalize on federal production tax credits that will start to lose some of their value at the end of this year.
Madison-based Alliant operates Interstate Power and Light Co., based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as Wisconsin Power and Light, based in Madison.
“We are also evaluating additional wind energy purchases and future investments for Wisconsin customers,” Pat Kampling, Alliant chairwoman and chief executive, said during a conference call Tuesday to discuss the company’s financial results. “This will add economic and stable energy to our fuel cost and allow us to offset market purchases of energy.”
Alliant is pursuing wind energy expansion in Iowa, where the wind resource is stronger than Wisconsin and where MidAmerican Energy recently announced plans for a $3.6 billion investment that would add 2,000 megawatts of wind generation.
Wisconsin’s total generation from wind turbines is 648 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That’s about one-tenth of the wind power capacity in Iowa, the nation’s No. 2 state for wind energy generation after Texas, according to the trade group.
As a company, Alliant generates 568 megawatts of wind power today and anticipates buying an additional 770 megawatts from other companies’ wind farms, according to Kampling.
The expansion is part of Alliant’s strategy to move to cleaner forms of power generation, primarily wind and natural gas, and reduce its reliance on coal-fired power. The utility anticipates that its greenhouse gas emissions will drop 40% between 2005 and 2030, Kampling said.
In the second quarter, Alliant reported net income of $86.4 million, or 37 cents a share, up from $67.6 million, or 31 cents a share, in the same period last year. Alliant reaffirmed its outlook for full-year earnings at $1.80 to $1.95 per share. Alliant’s shares closed up 15 cents at $40.42 on Tuesday.
Warmer weather and collections related to utility construction projects contributed to earnings growth in the quarter. The profit was offset somewhat by a charge the company took related to lower expected profits for Pewaukee-based American Transmission Co.
In June, a federal administrative law judge issued a ruling that could result in lower profits for transmission utilities including American Transmission. Alliant’s Wisconsin utility owns 16% of ATC. The primary owner is Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will decide in the coming months whether to agree with the judge’s recommendation, which sided with business groups’ complaints that claimed profits at Midwest transmission utilities are too high.
Saying it now expects ATC’s profit to be cut to 10.2% from 12.2%, the utility took a charge of 1 cent per share in the second quarter, company treasurer Robert Durian said.
Alliant’s earnings from ATC have been trimmed by $5 million so far this year – and $20 million overall – as a result of the profit complaint cases at FERC, the company said in a regulatory filing.