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Alliant gears up for new gas, renewable capacity and coal plant upgrades


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Alliant gears up for new gas, renewable capacity and coal plant upgrades

isproceeding with the "orderly transition" of its generating fleet tolower-emitting energy sources and cleaner coal-fired operations, the company'sCEO said May 5.

"We believe that our carbon emissions will continue todecrease due to the transition of our generating fleet, the availability oflower natural gas prices and increased renewable energy," Alliant Chairman, President and CEOPatricia Kampling said on a first-quarter earnings call.

Thecompany is forecasting more than $1.1 billion in construction capitalexpenditures for 2016. About $300 million will help make Alliant's electricdistribution system more robust and resilient. Another $200 million willimprove and expand the company's gas distribution business.

Alliantis also adding new natural gas-fired generating capacity, with two plantsslated to come on line in the next five years. The Public Service Commission ofWisconsin has approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity for anexpansion at Wisconsin Power andLight Co.'s Riversidefacility. The plant,which is intended to replace retiring coal- and gas-fired generation, will addabout 700 MW of capacity at an estimated cost of $700 million. That plant isexpected to be in service by early 2020. Kampling said the project is awaitingits water permit and has already received an air permit. Alliant will announcethe engineering, procurement and construction firm for the expansion later inMay.

Workis about 73% complete on InterstatePower & Light Co.'s roughly 700-MW combined-cycleplant in Iowa, which will also require about $700 million in anticipated CapEx.The project is on time and on budget and should be in service in spring 2017,Kampling said.

Severalrenewable projects are underway as well. Alliant currently owns 568 MW of windcapacity and has purchased about 470 MW of additional renewable resources. Thecompany's 10-year capital plan includes further investment in wind, and Alliantis looking for other solar investment opportunities "in the near future,"Kampling added. The company has started construction on the largest solar farmin Wisconsin at its Rock River landfill near the Riverside facility. And inIowa, Alliant will own and operate the solar panels at the Indian Creek NatureCenter, which is under construction near Cedar Rapids.

Althoughno new coal capacity is planned, much of Alliant's CapEx in the coming yearswill help upgrade its existing coal fleet. A new scrubber and baghouse shouldbe in service later in 2016 on unit 5 of the 697.1-MW plant. The $270 millionproject is about 97% complete and is on time and below budget, Alliant said May5.

Constructionmeanwhile began in March on selective catalytic reduction technology for unit 2of the 1,137-MW Columbiacoal-fired plant in Wisconsin. The project is expected in service in 2018.

Lastly,Alliant is budgeting about $200 million over the next seven years forcompliance with federal water and coal ash regulations that will affect nine ofthe company's facilities across Iowa and Wisconsin.

Warmer-than-normalweather kept Alliant's first-quarter earningsflat with the same period in 2015. Net income attributable to shareholders fromcontinuing operations totaled $97.6 million, or 86 cents per share, net of tax,which was also in line with S&P Global Market Intelligence's normalizedconsensus EPS estimate.