Alliant Energy Corporation at a Glance

Uppers

  • Good pay and benefits.
  • Friendly work atmosphere.

Downers

  • Recent layoffs and furloughs.
  • Little room for advancement.

The Bottom Line

  • Alliant is a well-known regional utility with a long history. It went through layoffs during the recent recession and has struggled somewhat since. However, it offers employees a strong benefit and salary package, as well as positive working environment.

About Alliant Energy Corporation

The spark of Alliant Energy’s business is keeping the lights on and stoves lit for its upper Midwest customers. Alliant is the parent of two public utility companies, Interstate Power and Light (IP&L) and Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL), which together provide energy to nearly 1.4 million customers. Of its nearly 30 million MWhs of delivered electricity, Alliant purchases roughly 45% and generates the rest with its more than 30 local power plants, doing so with a variety of sources including coal, natural gas, oil, hydro, and wind. It also runs natural gas operations that deliver nearly 125 million dekatherms of gas annually. Alliant also has minor operations in transportation and non-regulated power generation.

Operations

Alliant reports financial information for three segments: Electric Operations, Gas Operations, and Other. Organizationally, the company’s operations are mostly managed within its two regulated utility companies, Interstate Power and Light (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL).

The Electric Operations segment provides retail electric service in Iowa and retail and wholesale electric service in Wisconsin. It also sells wholesale to customers in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. The segment accounts for approximately 90% of Alliant’s revenue. Sources of its more than 6,100 MW of electric capacity include purchased (about 45%), coal (35%), natural gas (15%), and wind. IPL and WPL together own more than 33,000 miles of overhead electric line, nearly 8,500 miles of underground electric cable, and about 860 substation transformers.

The Gas Operations unit serves natural gas to customers in Iowa and Wisconsin and obtains its gas through agreements with over 70 suppliers located throughout the US and Canada. The unit owns 9,500 miles of gas mains, as well as meters, regulating and gate stations, and other transmission and distribution equipment. Gas Operations generates about 10% of Alliant’s revenue.

The Other segment is composed of transportation services, steam-based energy operations, general corporate functions, and some non-regulated energy generation.

Geographic Reach

Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy generates electricity in many regions in Iowa and Wisconsin, and purchases natural gas from other parts of the US and from Canada. Its customer base is largely throughout Iowa and the southern portions of Wisconsin. It sells some electricity (wholesale, not residential) outside its typical service area, to Minnesota and Illinois.

Prior to 2015 the company’s Minnesota operations included electric distribution assets that served more than 40,000 retail customers. It exited the retail market in that year but still sells wholesale electricity into the Minnesota market.

Sales and Marketing

Through its retail, regulated utility companies Alliant Energy serves 960,000 electric and 410,000 natural gas purchasers, including residential, industrial, and commercial customers. It also serves wholesale-purchasing industrial customers such municipalities and rural electric cooperatives.

The Gas Operations unit provides transportation service to commercial and industrial customers by moving customer-owned gas through Alliant’s distribution systems to the customers’ meters.

IPL and WPL participate in the wholesale energy and ancillary services market operated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). MISO is a collective of utility companies which agree to open access to their owned transmission infrastructure to other members, enabling each utility to sell, and deliver, electricity over another utility’s transmission system.

In general, state regulators in Alliant’s service areas designate the utility as the sole supplier for retail electric customers and for its gas customers. Some electricity competition exists via self-generation by large industrial customers and a small number of retail customers (using, for example, solar panels).

Financial Performance

For the past decade, Alliant generated a steady stream of revenue, ranging between $3.1 billion and $3.7 billion each year. Over the same time net income dipped under $120 million during the Great Recession and since then has risen steadily to top $370 million in recent years. Net cash during this period dwindled considerably, from a high of nearly $750 million to 2016’s $8.2 million, due to consistent, large capital expenditures.

In 2016, the utility generated $3.32 billion of revenue, up 2% from 2015. Despite slightly lower overall MWhs sold, higher margins due to a warmer than average summer and lower regulatory-supervised billing credits pushed revenue upward.

Net income slid 2% in 2016 to $372 million compared to the prior year. The lower income was primarily due to asset valuation charges related to the Franklin County wind farm, partially offset by higher electric and gas margins, higher allowance for funds used during construction related to its Marshalltown facility, and a favorable comparison related to the 2015 sale of its Minnesota electric and gas distribution assets.

Net cash rose from $5.8 million in 2015 to $8.2 million in 2016. Alliant generated $860 million in cash from operations and $330 million from financing activities (primarily from debt issuance). The company used $1.2 billion for investing, mainly for capital expenditures spent on electric generation facilities. The utility has averaged CAPEX of just under $1 billion per year since 2010, which has contributed to a steady depletion of the company’s cash on hand, all while maintaining a fairly constant debt burden.

Strategy

Alliant Energy’s two-part strategy includes growing its customer market and electric generation facilities along with optimizing its electric grid and gas distribution network.

As a regulated utility Alliant’s service area is largely fixed so growth of its customer base includes increasing the amount of energy used by its customers and attracting new customers into its service territories. To appeal to its existing base, the company pursues low-cost energy generation from increasingly renewable and environmentally-friendly sources. To that end, it opened in 2017 the Marshalltown natural gas generating station, it invested in the Franklin County Wind Farm, and received regulatory approval to pursue 500 MW of additional wind sourced energy. In 2016, Alliant helped attract into its service area the 1,300-acre Big Cedar Industrial Center in Iowa, a rail-served manufacturing and industrial site.

Optimizing its operations includes modernizing its power grid and gas distribution systems as well as adapting its energy generation facilities to use more desirable energy sources. It is deploying advanced metering to enable two-way flow of electricity and information and is upgrading its customer billing system. Its long-term objective of retiring coal-fired plants and increasing its use of gas-fired plants along with renewables receives continued capital investment. Alliant spent $650 million for the 660 MW Marshalltown natural gas plant, which began serving energy to customers in early 2017. In 2016, the company began expansion of its Riverside plant, a 730 MW natural gas facility, expected to begin service in 2020. The utility owns, or is in the process of purchasing, wind farms whose eventual combined capacity is 900 MW and whose service will begin in 2019.

In 2017 Alliant intends to invest a total of $1.3 billion in capital expenditures (CAPEX) for improvements to its infrastructure and power generation facilities. Targeted investments include $140 million for renewable energy generation, $300 million for natural gas generation, $370 million for electric distribution projects, and $130 million for gas distribution projects.

Company Background

Alliant Energy was created in 1998 by the three-way merger of WPL Holdings, IES Industries, and Interstate Power. Alliant Energy combined the utility operations of IES Industries and Interstate Power to form IP&L in 2002.

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Alliant Energy Corporation

4902 N Biltmore Ln #1000
Madison, WI 53718-2148
Phone: 1 (608) 458-3311
Fax: 1 (608) 758-1466

Stats

  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: LNT
  • Stock Exchange: NYSE
  • Chairman, President, and CEO, Alliant Energy Corporation, Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company: Patricia L. Kampling
  • Chairman, President, and CEO, Alliant Energy Corporation, Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company: Patricia L. Kampling
  • VP, Technology: Dirk E. Mahling
  • 2016 Employees: 3,978

Major Office Locations

  • Madison, WI

Other Locations

  • Washington, DC
  • Ames, IA
  • Armstrong, IA
  • Bellevue, IA
  • Burlington, IA
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Cherokee, IA
  • Clarinda, IA
  • Creston, IA
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Jefferson, IA
  • Lansing, IA
  • Marshalltown, IA
  • Mason City, IA
  • Ottumwa, IA
  • Rolfe, IA
  • Tama, IA
  • Baraboo, WI
  • Beaver Dam, WI
  • Beloit, WI
  • Cassville, WI
  • Elkhorn, WI
  • Fond Du Lac, WI
  • Janesville, WI
  • Marion, WI
  • Mineral Point, WI
  • Monroe, WI
  • Pardeeville, WI
  • Platteville, WI
  • Port Edwards, WI
  • Portage, WI
  • Prairie Du Sac, WI
  • Sheboygan, WI
  • Stoughton, WI
  • Wautoma, WI
  • Wisconsin Rapids, WI
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