Alliant selling natural gas operations

Published 10:35am Friday, February 7, 2014

Alliant Energy filed an application this week with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission seeking approval to sell its natural gas operations in the state to Minnesota Energy Resources.

Letters were sent to customers announcing the filing and rate increases to match what Minnesota Energy Resources already charges its customers. However, it mentions costs are expected to be lower than five years ago.

If the deal goes through, Minnesota Energy Resources, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group, would go from serving 214,000 customers to nearly 225,000.

The subsidiary serves the area communities of Blooming Prairie, Hayfield, Lansing Township, Oakland, Waltham, Alden, Emmons, Freeborn, Twin Lakes and Wells. Minnesota Energy Resources customers saw a rate hike increase of 4.2 percent in January.

Alliant Energy also intends to sell its electrical holdings in Minnesota to a dozen rural cooperatives. To smooth the transition, the cooperatives have formed a single entity called Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative. The announcement of the sale came in September.

According to a press release, Madison, Wis.-based Alliant Energy plans to submit an application seeking MPUC approval for the sale of its electric-distribution business to SMEC before the end of March.

The SMEC member in Freeborn and Mower counties slated to possess Alliant Energy’s electrical operations is Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services. Freeborn-Mower, upon approval, would triple in size. It would go from roughly 6,000 customers to a little more than 21,000 and would supply power to Albert Lea.

Alliant Energy’s Iowa and Minnesota operations are based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After the sale, Alliant will no longer operate in Minnesota, except for its Bent Tree Wind Farm near Hartland and Manchester and its Fox Lake power-generation plant near Sherburn, which uses natural gas but can operate on coal, too. It is slated for retirement in nine years.

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