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tracygehrts@alliantenergy.com

Alliant Energy’s grid of the future: Strategic telecommunications (fiber) will play a key role

Telecommunication is a foundational element of the Grid Modernization Program 

Alliant Energy’s Grid Modernization Program is transforming the distribution grid into a digital system with continuous two-way flow of electricity and information. The projects within the program leverage new technologies, tools, data and practices to meet emerging customer requirements. This will lead us toward our Grid of the Future.

Future electric distribution will require secure two-way flow of increasing amounts of data. That’s where our Strategic Telecommunications Project comes in. We’re replacing leased third-party telecommunications capacity and installing our own fiber optic networks.

Fiber optic cable is the preferred network backbone because the grid of the future will be far more data intensive. Sensors, smart meters, fault interrupters and other digital devices are transforming how customers receive, use and generate energy. This means massive amounts of information will need to flow back and forth smoothly, securely and continuously.

The following map shows the core fiber ring we’re installing between now and the end of 2020.

Our fiber networks will create strong digital highways. They will also improve connectivity for the rural portions of our service area, where delivering consistent high-speed online access has been a challenge. Future project phases will use wireless technology to expand the fiber network and bring connectivity to an increasing number of distributed grid devices.

Two Alliant Energy wind farms win Envision Platinum Award for sustainable infrastructure

The Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure recently announced that two of Alliant Energy’s wind farms — Upland Prairie in Everly, Iowa and English Farms in Montezuma, Iowa — received the Envision Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure. To earn Envision Platinum, a project delivers an exemplary range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.

Alliant Energy anticipates increasing our renewable energy capacity from 20% in 2018 to 33% in 2024. Completion of the Upland Prairie and English Farms Wind Farms, with a projected combined energy capacity of 470 megawatts, represents significant progress towards meeting this goal.

The project team selected the wind turbines based on several key factors, including high-performance, durability and noise reduction. The new turbines selected by Alliant Energy can withstand higher wind speeds and have an increased capacity. With higher-performing turbines, fewer units are needed per project. This minimizes disturbance to ecologically sensitive areas, such as wetlands, on the project site.

“We are continuing to transition our generating fleet to cleaner, more cost-effective sources, which will promote a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company.

Other Alliant Energy projects have previously been recognized for sustainability with Envision awards. Our Marshalltown Generating Station and Dubuque Solar projects have each earned Envision Platinum for sustainability. The Upland Prairie and English Farms wind farms bring Alliant Energy’s total number of Envision awards to four.

Cargill announces expansion at Eddyville, Iowa Bioprocessing complex

Cargill is expanding one of their key corn-milling sites, a plant that grinds over 275,000 bushels daily, in Eddyville, Iowa. The $128.3 million project includes upgrades to bioprocessing equipment, expanded capacity of its wastewater facility, expansion of the research and development area and new office space. Seventeen new jobs will be created to support the operation’s latest growth, bringing total employment to over 500 people at the facility.

The Cargill Eddyville plant is a $1 billion-dollar investment that creates food ingredients for products “working to feed the world.” Its 2,000-acre campus is one of its largest food ingredients operations across the country, and allows the company to supply a variety of products to co-location partners, Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Ajinomoto Heartland and Wacker Biosolutions.

Hormel Foods Corporation moves production from Nebraska to Dubuque, Iowa

Progressive Processing, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, is shifting a production line for SPAM products from Fremont, Nebraska, to its Dubuque facility. Progressive Processing is expected to create 58 jobs, bringing total employment to over 400, with the $13 million capital investment.

The Dubuque plant originally opened in January 2010 to produce Hormel® Compleats® microwave meals and canned chunk chicken. It was the first food processing plant built by Hormel in 25 years and the only refrigerated food processing facility to possess Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification at any level. The plant was later expanded in 2014 to produce the SPAM® family of products and Hormel® Real Bacon Bits.

This past summer, Crown Holdings, Inc. a leading manufacturer of packaging for the food and beverage industry announced they were relocating its production facility from Omaha to Dubuque so they can better support Hormel in supplying specialty shaped cans for their Spam line.

Online retail giant Amazon is coming to Beloit, Wisconsin

Online retailer Amazon began moving dirt on an expansive 1 million-square-foot distribution center on an 80-acre site in Beloit’s Gateway Business Park, near the interchange of I-43 and I-90-39. The estimated $130 million project is projected to create 1,000 new jobs. Construction is expected to be completed by September 2020.

Amazon marks the largest project in the 18-year history of the Gateway Business Park. Current businesses include Chicago Fittings, Kettle Foods, Kerry Ingredients, The Morse Group, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, Specialty Tools, Staples Order Fulfillment Center and Pratt Industries.

One of the largest industrial properties in Wisconsin becomes certified

Beaver Dam Commerce Park is located in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin on the city’s far north side, with four-lane U.S. Highway 151 nearby. The property totals 520-contiguous acres, is zoned industrial, located within a TIF district and has been certified “suitable for development” by Deloitte Consulting and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Nestled among three nearby metropolitan areas (Madison – 45 minutes, Milwaukee – 75 minutes and Green Bay – 90 minutes), Beaver Dam has access to an available labor pool of roughly 225,000 people within a 45 minute drive time. Users can reach over 50% of the U.S. population within one day’s truck delivery and 75% within two days. One day hauls include such destinations as Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Detroit and Des Moines.

Beaver Dam includes a healthy mix of food processing, metal fabrication and coatings, and printing. A favorable business climate and a quality workforce with over 35% of occupations in the manufacturing sector are factors driving industry growth in the community.

Alliant Energy named a “Top Utility in Economic Development”

Alliant Energy has been recognized as a “Top Utility in Economic Development” by Site Selection magazine. The magazine bases the ranking on corporate project investment, job creation figures and utility service area populations. In 2018, Alliant Energy had 49 new industrial, warehouse and large office projects, $1.438 billion in new capital investment and 3,667 new jobs across our Iowa and Wisconsin service area.

Over the last three years, we have invested in several certified industrial sites such as Big Cedar Industrial Center, Prairie View Industrial Center and Beaver Dam Commerce Park. This recognition showcases our progress in those efforts as we fuel growth for our customers and communities.

“As a company, we are all extremely proud of this prestigious award. Our economic development, account management, engineering and marketing teams have played a critical role in Alliant Energy being placed among this elite group of utilities,” said John Larsen, Chairman, President and CEO at Alliant Energy.

Alliant Energy is focused on growing both existing and new customers. Energy is a big factor in the selection of a site or the expansion of an existing customer and the energy solutions we provide have positively impacted these high-dollar expansion and construction decisions.

Minnesota-based company expands to Mason City, Iowa

Minnesotas Bushel BoyBushel Boy Farms has broken ground on a nearly 17-acre greenhouse with a 50,000 square foot packing house along I-35 in Mason City, Iowa. The company has acquired 50 acres for the initial $35 million project that is expected to be operational by fall of 2020. The 50 new employees will grow beefsteak, vine-on and grape tomatoes that will be shipped to customers across the Upper Midwest, including the Hy-Vee perishable distribution center in Iowa.

Bushel Boy tomatoes are grown from seeds with each plant producing fresh tomatoes for about 27 weeks in a row. The fruit is grown in special greenhouses, pollinated by bees, then ripened and shipped on the vine to stores within about 24 hours of being picked. Bushel Boy’s tomatoes possess a similar fresh garden flavor and red, ripe color to homegrown tomatoes but are available on local shelves year-round.

Iowa and Wisconsin continue to post high marks in 2019 Manufacturing Scorecard

Iowa and Wisconsin maintained stellar grades in manufacturing, logistics industry health, expected financial gap and human capital, according to Ball State University’s latest Manufacturing Scorecard report. Iowa earned an overall A grade while Wisconsin received and overall mark of B.

The 2019 Manufacturing Scorecard from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research analyzes how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underpin the success of manufacturing and logistics.

Manufacturing Industry Health – Iowa (A) Wisconsin (B)

  • The location of manufacturing depends more on local factors such as the quality and availability of the labor force, transportation infrastructure, nonwage labor costs, access to innovative technologies, and the cost of doing business.

Logistics Industry Health – Iowa (B) Wisconsin (B)

  • The movement of goods is of central importance to the production of goods. Without a robust logistics industry, manufacturing and commodity production will not occur.

Human Capital – Iowa (A) Wisconsin (B)

  • No factor matters more to businesses than the quality and availability of labor. Workers represent the largest single cost of doing business.

Alliant Energy’s Growth Sites take the spotlight at biotechnology conference

Alliant Energy recently partnered with the Iowa Economic Development Authority for a sponsorship at the 2019 BIO World Congress in Des Moines, Iowa. The event attracted 572 companies from 35 countries within the biotechnology industry. Alliant Energy’s Economic Development team represented our Growth Sites including the Big Cedar Industrial Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the Prairie View Industrial Center in Ames, Iowa to prospective companies.

Our team also co-hosted a reception with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority with 150 conference attendees. John Larsen, Chairman, President and CEO, spoke about Alliant Energy’s connection to the industry and the many benefits of establishing a production facility in our service area.

“Alliant Energy is honored to power some of the world’s largest bio-tech companies with our electricity and natural gas. Our 2,100 Iowa employees are proud to support the growth of biotechnology in the state,” John Larsen told attendees.

Companies throughout Alliant Energy’s service area are capitalizing on the agriculture and research capabilities in plant, animal and human biosciences that Wisconsin and Iowa provide. Alliant Energy is an energy solution partner to globally recognized companies including Cargill, ADM, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Roquette, Ajinomoto USA Inc., Ingredion Inc., Verbio, Catalent Biologicals and Wacker Chemie.

BIO is the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology centers. The organization focuses on making advancements every day to deliver more nutritious food, cleaner-burning biofuels, healthier animals, cleaner water and a better standard of living for families across the state.