Making a difference with Hunger Action Month updates
Start your week with smiles
Our employees were busy using their Energy for Good in September to support Hunger Action Month. Here are two recent examples that will put a smile on your face:
Janesville joins in
Employees in and around Janesville, Wisconsin, volunteered to support Second Harvest Foodbank, teaming up to hand out food at First Lutheran Church. They also helped bag up food before the event, set up and push carts of food during the event and cleaning up when it was all over. They helped Second Harvest serve around 140 households.
Left to right: Kim Harrison, Tina Gurney, Lori Bertelsen, Dale Crawford, Jackie Stark, Jenny Quade, Kim Buol, Deanna Schuett, Jeff Knier, Stacy Meyer. Not pictured: Tammie Wendelschafer.
Some of the employees in this group volunteer at the food bank every month, and said they were excited to see a larger group of Alliant Energy volunteers for Hunger Action Month.
Wisconsin Rapids working hard
Meanwhile, a group of employees volunteered at a mobile food pantry event at the Wisconsin Rapids City Garage.
The team packed bags with meat and potatoes and loaded them, along with another box of food, into cars as they drove through the garage.
Left to right: Corrie Dhein, Andrew Barteck, Brad Wood, Eric Gildenzoph, Riley Cade, Dan Hofmeister, David de Leon, Andy Kitslaar, Greg McTavish.
Shoutout to both groups for Making things better in our communities!
Burlington makes things better, safely, for our communities
For the week of September 5, the fire department sent two firefighters to Burlington Op’s quarterly Local Safety Leadership Team luncheon. And then we sent crew members to the fire department for three separate safety presentations in order to accommodate the 24-hour shifts. Jeff Denz, Line Mechanic, led the conversation giving examples and educating the firefighters on the components in our system.
It was great to see everyone stepping it up to share in the safety message.
Thank you for helping us deliver on our Purpose to serve customers and build stronger communities.
L to R: Ashlie Timm, Jeff Denz, Daniel Segura, Mason Leinbach, Eddie Fletcher
PowerHouse Challenge: Get your home ready for cold weather
Fall energy-saving tips you can do today
Colder temperatures are coming. You want to be cozy. We can help. Take the September PowerHouse Challenge!
Every month, Pete and Megan from PowerHouse TV share seasonal, energy efficiency tips help you save on your energy bill all year long. For September, they tell us about easy things you can do now to save energy and money and be ready for winter.
- Schedule a furnace tune-up to make sure your system runs efficiently.
- Change your furnace filter. Clogged filters make your heating system work harder.
- Seal air leaks around doors, windows and outlets to keep warm air in.
- On cold days, turn down the thermostat a few degrees and dress in layers.
- Adjust your ceiling fans to circulate warm air trapped at the ceiling.
- Consider installing a smart thermostat to help manage your energy use. We offer a rebate! Get details at alliantenergy.com/smartthermostat.
Find even more ways to save this winter at powerhousetv.com.
September is National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month is an opportunity each year to highlight and promote the importance of family and community disaster planning.
It’s a reminder to know what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts and where to go if you and your family needs to evacuate.
Preparedness begins with a plan
Though we all hope disaster won’t strike, a plan ensures we can respond and recover for our employees and customers. It’s important for us to have plans in place at work. It’s just as important to have a plan at home for you and your family.
Ready.gov provides information to help create a plan specific to your needs and the types of disasters that could impact your area.
It will help you think through how your family will reconnect if you’re separated when disaster strikes.
It will help you with shelter, evacuation and communications plans and provide suggestions for what to put in your emergency preparedness kit.
Another great resource is the American Red Cross. They make it easy to find what common emergencies and natural disasters occur where you live and help you complete three easy steps to prepare:
- Get a kit.
- Make a plan.
- Be informed.
For additional help with your emergency kit, check out this video from our August PowerHouse Challenge. Pete and Megan walk you through how to create a kit for storms and power outages.
A little bit of planning goes a long way. Take a few minutes to check out helpful resources and plan with your family.
Farm safety on Facebook
A whole crop of our customers live and work in rural areas. Many are in the business of farming and livestock.
That's why we offer energy-efficiency and Safety programs specifically for our agriculture customers.
Our farm safety focus extends to our smallest customers ... kids. While many may not be old enough to operate big machinery, they do chores and live around the equipment and power lines.
We recently featured Joe Dupont, Agriculture Representative I, on our social media feeds. We captured him doing a presentation to kids at the Progressive Ag Safety Days.
“It is important that we do our part to help inform kids and keep farm kids a little safer,” said Joe.
We’re grateful for the work Joe and all the members of our Safety team do to teach kids how important it is to be safe around electricity.
Our Value, Live safety. Everyone. Always. applies to everyone, including our customers and their children!
Like or friend us
You'll see a wide variety of content on our social media channels. We keep customers up to date on storm restoration, safety, energy-saving tips and the great things our Foundation, company and employees are doing to help in the community.
We'll send this news straight to your social media feeds. Like, friend or follow us on Insta, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
A new dawn for solar – Bear Creek array is up and powering
Monday marked a major milestone in Wisconsin for our Clean Energy Blueprint. We hosted a ribbon cutting for our Bear Creek Solar Project, our company’s first utility-scale solar project in the state. At 50 megawatts (MW), the solar farm in Richland County can generate enough electricity to power approximately 13,000 homes.
In addition to this site producing clean solar energy to power homes and businesses, Richland County and the town of Buena Vista will receive an estimated $200,000 in combined shared revenue payments annually for the next 30 years through the state’s shared revenue program.
“Across Wisconsin, we are working with families, farmers, businesses and communities to develop renewable energy projects both big and small,” said David de Leon, President of our Wisconsin energy company. “Guided by our Purpose-driven Strategy to serve customers and build stronger communities, this solar farm diversifies our energy portfolio, boosts American energy independence and increases access to affordable electricity.”
Our Clean Energy Blueprint includes constructing more than 1,000 MW of utility-scale solar energy at 12 sites across Wisconsin. The Bear Creek Solar Project is the first of these 12 sites to become operational. Three more projects are expected to go into service later this year.
Meet one of our VIPs, Michelle Yun
Award-winning employees who use their energy to give back
Michelle Yun, Senior Manager – Strategy and Electrification, joined our company as a senior attorney in 2016. She had been drawn to the sciences since childhood, especially the power of energy.
“It’s an invisible but powerful force in our lives and behaviors,” she explained. “Energy enables the technology that has shifted how we interact so profoundly.”
In her current position at Alliant Energy, she focuses on growing electrification. That includes encouraging customers to adopt electric vehicles. She wants them to understand the value of electric cars, fleets and school buses.
She also wants young girls to understand the value of STEM education and careers. Michelle literally plays a role in our program targeting tween and middle school girls.
The Power Chronicles
Our Power Chronicles graphic novel tells the story of a young girl who goes on a magical journey to visit women in history who made significant contributions to science, technology, engineering and math. She also meets women of today who continue that tradition. In the video version, Michelle provided the voice of Eden Full Goh, the pioneering solar engineer, computer scientist and entrepreneur.
The Power Chronicles inspires tween girls to pursue STEM learning and careers, when they're at an age when many lose confidence in those subjects. Michelle has experience speaking to girls in that age range at events, as well as to young women in high school and older.
Tipping the Scales
Michelle used her legal career experience to develop a program in Madison that encourages local, diverse young people to take interest in the legal community. Tipping the Scales brings attorneys, judges and other local legal leaders into high schools to share their knowledge and experience. It allows young people to imagine themselves as a lawyer or a judge and helps them see there is room for them at the table.
“We have such talented young people right here,” she said. “While we do focus on recruiting the best and the brightest to our service area, we can also invest in our own communities to grow that diverse talent right here.”
Michelle’s volunteer efforts and commitment to her community demonstrate how she uses her Energy for Good. For that reason, our Foundation awarded her our Values in Practice (VIP) Award.
Prepare for the unexpected with an emergency kit
Every month, Pete and Megan share the PowerHouse Challenge! It’s one bite-sized tip to help Alliant Energy customers and employees save money and energy, or in this case, to be prepared and stay safe.
In August, learn how to create an emergency kit for storms and power outages. Having essential items on hand and easily accessible could be lifesaving in a severe weather event or an emergency.
In this video, Pete and Megan walk you through the steps. They show you how to choose the right container, figure out where to store it, and what to put inside – from flashlights and bottled water to medications and baby supplies.
Watch the video with the whole family. Visit powerhousetv.com to learn more.
Sheboygan and Kohler solar projects sunning, running and now producing clean energy
Shining examples of our Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables program
Two Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables projects, the City of Sheboygan Solar Field and Kohler Solar Field, are now operational.
The two projects highlight the flexibility of the Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables program, working with both public and private customers to make meaningful advancements in clean energy. In total, the 3.25 megawatts of renewable energy from the projects could generate enough electricity to power roughly 760 homes annually.
“We are pleased to advance our transition to clean energy with the completion of the City of Sheboygan and Kohler solar projects,” said David de Leon, President of our Wisconsin energy company. “Sheboygan-area residents will have access to the energy generated from these solar fields – just another example of how we keep customers at the heart of everything we do.”
Shining on Sheboygan
The City of Sheboygan Solar Field utilizes space at the Sheboygan Business Center for a 1-MW solar project. The city will showcase the benefits of clean energy while receiving lease payments for 25 years.
Solar at Kohler
The Kohler Solar Field is a 2.25-megawatt (MW) solar project on Kohler Co.'s property. It's one of several environmental initiatives Kohler has undertaken since 2008 as it aspires to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. They have eight more solar projects in development.
Commitment to clean energy
These projects fall under our Clean Energy Blueprint, which is a roadmap to achieving our clean energy goals of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity we generate by 2050. Investing in renewables allows us to provide affordable, safe and reliable energy for years to come.
Visit alliantenergy.com/solar for more information.
Beware of solar scams
As a precaution to our employees and customers, we are sharing the latest scam from bad actors pretending to be affiliated with solar installation companies.
Remember to disregard those phone calls and avoid giving out any personal information. As a way to #StopScams, here are some signs to look out for.
Recognize signs of heat stroke
Earlier this month, Julie Vande Hoef, Manager – Executive Engagement and Strategic Projects, sprang into action in an emergency. She and her husband were attending Collective Soul’s outdoor concert in Council Bluffs. Suddenly, a concert goer next to them collapsed!
She said she immediately recognized signs of heat stroke. “I took his pulse and reassured his spouse that it was likely heat stroke, while my husband alerted event and medical staff,” she explained. “The man woke up moments later and the medical staff shared that it was, in fact, heat stroke.”
So what are the signs of heat stroke? Mayo Clinic outlines common symptoms.
Alliant Energy employee appears on GMA
GMA revealed the American Kennel Club (AKC) added the Italiano Bracco as the 200th dog breed on their list of official members. Lisa and her really good boy and good girl traveled to the Big Apple to celebrate with GMA hosts T.J. Holmes, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos.
“We’ve been waiting quite a few years for this,” Lisa told the hosts. She’s been showing Nigel for several years, but said her breeder had been waiting 13 years for the designation. “It’s been a long process to get here.”
Watch Lisa, Nigel and Beretta's debut on GMA, right here.
Bridging the digital divide
Construction is now underway in Hollandale to bring up to 2-gig internet service to about 150 households and businesses in the area.
We met with MHTC representatives, the Hollandale Village Clerk-Treasurer and Tri-State representatives on-site to view the progress of the project, which is expected to be operational in September of this year. Tri-State is the contractor selected by MHTC to construct the project.
Broadband speaker series sheds light on the digital divide
The digital divide represents the gap in access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet service. This gap is especially pronounced in less densely populated rural areas and among financially disadvantaged customers and communities.
For the majority of Alliant Energy's customers, and for tens of millions of Americans nationwide, circumstances like these are reality. In fact, 67% of our customers in Wisconsin and 75% of our customers in Iowa lack access to reliable and affordable broadband service.
Inequities continue to expand and are impacting so many individuals across our nation. To truly address racial and social injustice and to advance diversity, equity and inclusion—equal access to essential services is a must.
Alliant Energy is hosting a speaker series to bring attention to this important matter. To learn more about this initiative and download materials from speaker events, visit our Broadband webpage.
Smart thermostats helping customers cool smarter
Smart Hours program now open in WisconsinWisconsin customers can now enroll in our Alliant Energy® Smart Hours program to save energy, earn rewards and take the heat off peak demand.
Smart Hours is a demand response program where participants allow us to adjust their smart thermostat a few degrees during occasional periods of high usage or extreme temperatures.
While customers can always control their thermostats, we chose certain times to shift some energy use to periods when energy demand is lower.
By cooling or heating the home at different times of the day, customers stay comfortable and reduce the overall energy demand.
"Smart thermostats give customers more control over their energy use and make it easier than ever to reduce their energy bills," said Kari Gehrke, Manager of Demand Side Management. “This is a simple way to save money and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time.”
What’s in it for us?
The program helps us use more environmentally friendly energy sources to meet electricity demand on extremely hot and cold days. By relying on cleaner, more energy-efficient sources, we can keep electricity costs lower for all customers.
A soft launch of Smart Hours started in April. We had our first demand response events on June 14 and June 21 due to high temperatures. The adjustments for the thermostats operated perfectly, with preliminary demand savings of 1,741 kW and 1,846 kW respectively. Final details on the program performance will be available soon.
To learn more about Smart Hours and to enroll, visit alliantenergysmarthours.com.
Growing our first Community Solar garden in Iowa
Cedar Rapids to host the first plot
Cedar Rapids will soon be the home of our first Community Solar garden in Iowa. It will be located north of the 1100 block of 33rd Avenue SW on company-owned property. We’ve had our eye on the location for growing a solar garden for a long time.
Construction is underway, with estimated completion of late summer 2023. The project is in direct response to customer requests for additional opportunities to access renewable energy.
Growing Community Solar
Our Community Solar program allows our electric customers to enjoy the benefits of solar power without the hassle of installing solar panels on their property. Instead, they can buy blocks of the solar garden. They receive monthly credits on electric bills for every block purchased for the 20-year life of the project. The garden will consist of 18,000 solar blocks. Each 250-watt block will produce an estimated average of 541 kilowatts annually. At max output, the 4.5-megawatt solar project could power 3,600 homes.
“We are excited for our Iowa customers to enjoy the benefits of clean, renewable energy,” said Terry Kouba, President of our Iowa energy company. “The Community Solar program is just one more way we can use our knowledge and resources to serve our customers while bringing them options and solutions to meet their needs.”
Sowing seeds of solar partnerships
Transamerica and Aegon Asset Management, a global insurance and investment group based in Cedar Rapids, has committed to purchase 60% of the garden’s solar blocks and become the anchor tenant for the project.
We’re donating up to $400,000 in solar blocks to Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity homeowners. Those homeowners will receive monthly credits on their bills, too, for the life of the project. The director of Habitat said taking away the pressures of staying housed and keeping the lights on allows families to focus on opportunities to improve their health, transportation, education, employment and more.
Learn more about the project in this blog post.
How we choose solar sites
Our Illuminate customer blog recently included an article explaining how we choose sites for solar projects. It starts with mutual interest between our company and landowners who want to lease their land for a solar site. Then we consider several criteria before sealing the deal.
- Project size vs. parcel size: It takes five to seven acres of land to produce one megawatt of solar energy. Is there enough suitable land available to match the energy needs of customers in the area?
- Topography and access: Hills aren’t deal breakers, but if the slope is too much, it may not be cost-effective to develop.
- Environmental considerations: While solar is a clean energy, siting a project in environmentally sensitive land or an area that negatively impacts wildlife is not appropriate.
Learn more about how we select the right site for our company, landowners and the environment by reading the full post.
Threat alert: Cybercriminals pose as the IRS in recent phishing campaigns
Attackers use fake tax form notifications to spread malware through infected attachments and websites
It’s tax season. Tax-related scams and phishing attacks are on the rise. There are multiple phishing attacks going around in which attackers pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The messages claim that you need to download and review a tax form. You are instructed to either download an attachment (such as a Word, Excel or ZIP file) or click a link to a password or CAPTCHA-protected website to access these tax forms.
These downloads contain malicious software, also known as malware, that can give cybercriminals access to and control over your device.
Here are some examples of the emails.
The IRS will not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information. Regard all unexpected communications you receive purporting to be from the agency as suspicious. Keep these tips in mind when dealing with suspected IRS-themed phishing emails:
- Do not reply.
- Do not preview, open or download attachments.
- Do not click on any links.
For additional advice on dealing with suspected IRS-themed scams, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing.
Mark your calendars: 2022 Retiree Reunions
You have been missed! Alliant Energy retirees are invited to attend one of our four Retiree Reunions this spring. The cost of the luncheons are covered by Alliant Energy, and each retiree may bring a guest.
At the meetings, you will have an opportunity to hear updates from company executives, receive information on Alliant Energy Foundation programs and
network with old friends.
Visit the Retiree Reunions page for all the details.
We've been named to Newsweek's America's Most Responsible Companies 2022 List
Alliant Energy has been named to Newsweek’s 2022 list of America’s Most Responsible Companies. This prestigious list is presented by Newsweek and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The list, which spans 14 industries, recognizes the top 499 most responsible companies in the United States.
“We are pleased to once again be honored as one of America’s Most Responsible Companies and to have our environmental, social and governance efforts so highly recognized,” said Barbara Tormaschy, vice president and treasurer of Alliant Energy. “Our actions are guided by our values and purpose, which center on serving customers and building stronger communities. We emphasize improving workplace diversity, equity and inclusion and are also proud to be a leader in the transition to generating cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and solar. It’s this combined commitment to our employees, our customers and our environment that earns us placement on this prestigious list.”
Form 1099 information
It’s that time of year again – Wells Fargo (not Alliant Energy) will be issuing your Form 1099 for tax preparation shortly. Those documents will be mailed no later than January 31. Please be aware that the postal service will be inundated with similar mailings from many companies at this time, so it will not be unrealistic for these tax forms to arrive at your address (the address on file at Wells Fargo at year end) throughout the first part of February.
Customer Service folks will not be able to honor requests for duplicate Form 1099’s until at least February 15. You may recall our recent announcement of the new Your Pension Care Team so if you have not received the document by mid-February, you may contact our new Your Pension Care Team directly at1-844-808-9007.
Additionally as a reminder for those retirees with their pensions issued by Wells Fargo Bank – in the future, all pension related questions should be directed to the above Your Pension Care Team at the phone number noted.
For those of you with pensions administered by Principal Financial Group, please follow the above timeline as well …if your documents have not arrived by mid-February, you can contact the Customer Service group for Principal at 1-800-247-7011. And for clarification, all your pension-related questions should continue to be directed to Principal Financial Group.
Willis Towers Watson to manage pension customer service
No change to pension plan benefits – just faster, easier ways to get answers.
We are pleased to announce that starting January 1, 2022, Willis Towers Watson will take on the administration of our pension plan. The move will provide faster, more robust customer service and self-service for our retirees in pension, pension-eligible employees and pension-eligible former employees. Additionally, retirees under age 65 will start paying their health/benefits premiums directly to our Benefits Service Center, rather than have them deducted from their pension payment.
For all retirees in pension:
Willis Towers Watson, a leading industry expert in pension administration will take on the customer service responsibilities of our plan. Starting January 3, you will have a dedicated service center, Your Pension Care Team as well as a secure website with helpful tools and self-serve options.
Your Pension Care Team will be your primary contact for pension-related questions and coordinating address, direct deposit and tax withholding changes and the annual Form 1099. You can contact Your Pension Care Team at Willis Towers Watson in one of two ways:
- Your Pension Care Team: Beginning January 3, 2022, you can call 1-844-808-9007 to speak with a representative in our dedicated pension service center. Representatives are available to assist you Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time.
- Online self-service site: Go to eepoint.towerswatson.com/sites/alliant/ess to make any address, direct deposit or tax changes related to your pension benefit and print a pension verification. You can also submit questions to the Your Pension Care Team through the website.
For Under-65 retirees in pension
If you use our health plan and other benefits, starting January 1, 2022, you will need to submit your premium payments to our Alliant Energy Benefits Service Center. Premiums will no longer be deducted from your monthly pension payment.
You’ll have more choice in how you pay your premiums. You can pay by check, make one-time payments online or by phone or set up automatic withdrawal from a bank account.
And, since your premiums won’t come out of your pension payment, your monthly check or deposit will be that much bigger. Please note – health plan benefits, premium amounts, deductibles, coinsurance and all other services remain the same.
For all our retirees, we want to assure you that these updates do not affect your pension plan benefits. We will continue to oversee the pension trust and benefits in the plan. Watch your mailbox for letters with all the details. If you have questions, please call our Benefits Service Center at 1-866-303-1891.