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Alliant Energy to close Lansing coal plant, expand solar energy footprint

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — Alliant Energy announced plans on Thursday to close its coal plant in Lansing by the end of 2022 and transition the Burlington plant from coal to natural gas by 2021.

The Lansing plant, located along the Mississippi River near the Iowa/Minnesota border, has been in operation for 72 years and currently employs 26 workers.

“For decades, our employees have done an outstanding job maintaining and operating our coal-fired power plants to deliver affordable and reliable energy for Iowans,” Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company said. “As we transition from coal toward a cleaner energy mix, our top priorities include caring for our employees, creating new local jobs and bringing new economic development opportunities to the communities we serve.”

Throughout the transition at both plants, the company says employees will be provided with career assistance, including one-on-one coaching, tuition reimbursement and other resources geared toward each individual employee. The company also plans to work with the Burlington and Lansing communities on the upcoming transitions as well as to determine the
best use of the Lansing site, along with ways to continue supporting the local economy.

The decision to close the Lansing plant will benefit the company and customers in the long run. It will allow the company to avoid what they call “significant investments” that would otherwise be required to comply with changing environmental regulations.

Alliant Energy will also be adding up to 400 megawatts of solar energy by 2023. The company already has solar farms in Dubuque, Marshalltown and Cedar Rapids. Right now, it’s unclear where any new solar developments will be built. Combine that with their 1,300 megawatts of wind energy as well as other renewable sources and Alliant says nearly 50% of their energy production in Iowa will come from renewable resources.

Alliant also plans to add up to 100 megawatts of battery storage by 2026. When combined with solar generation, battery storage serves as a “renewable electron bank” designed to store excess power that’s generated when the sun is most powerful and then release the energy, as needed.

“We are exploring battery storage as a cost-effective alternative that meets our customer’s energy needs while also creating a connected energy network that fully realizes the value of combining these resources,” Kouba said.

The changes to the Lansing and Burlington plants will help Alliant move closer to its goal of zero coal usage by 2040 and 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. They’re all part of the company’s Clean Energy Blueprint for Iowa plan to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Alliant expects the actions taken as part of its Clean Energy Blueprint for Iowa program will save customers $300 million over the next 35 years. The Blueprint also reportedly puts Alliant Energy on course to achieve its goal of net-zero carbon emissions for the electricity it generates by 2050.

“We continue to lead the way toward a clean energy future for our customers,” Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO John Larsen said. “Investing in renewable energy, like wind and solar, benefits our customers, the communities we serve and the environment. Our Clean Energy Blueprint serves as a roadmap that creates new jobs for Iowans and revenue opportunities for communities around the state, while we also provide reliable, sustainable energy solutions for decades to come.”

The Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Iowa Environmental Council released a joint statement applauding Thursday’s announcement. To read that full statement, click here.

For more on Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint for Iowa, click here.

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