Alliant Energy will invest more than $400 million in energy efficient programs over the next five years after the Iowa Utilities Board approved its five-year energy plan this week.
The plan, which starts Jan. 1, includes home energy audits and insulation rebates, heating and cooling program offerings, new construction programs and commercial and industrial custom rebates. Items added to the plan are expanded energy-use assessment options, increased LED lighting options for homes, businesses and farms, as well as new rebate opportunities for small businesses.
The plan includes 25 programs in all, according to Justin Foss, a spokesman for Alliant.
Foss said there are hundreds of ways to increase energy efficiency, and it's important for Alliant to find a balance between the number of programs it offers and programs that customers will want to use.
Under Iowa’s energy efficiency policy, the state's largest utilities submit energy efficiency plans for review every five years. Alliant said that since 1999, these plans have helped customers save more than 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual electric usage for nearly 170,000 Iowa homes.
However, the Iowa Environmental Council believes the plan does not go far enough. The council offered testimony and recommendations during Alliant's plan review.
Under the new goals, Alliant will attempt to save 1.1 percent in retail sales each year over the next five years.
"We thought the target should be higher — closer to 2 percent," said Nathaniel Baer, the environmental council's energy director. Baer believes the plan should push customers to use more of Alliant's programs and technology.
He was also disappointed the the utilities board allowed the company to suspend its incentive program for renewable energy installations, which has been in place for about five years.
Foss said Alliant chose to get rid of the incentive program because the cost of solar panels has come down substantially and because the company wants the five-year plan to focus more on energy efficiency than on renewable energy."There are some good things in there," Baer said. "The board declined to let large customers opt out" of participating in the utility programs.