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IUB Issues Order Modifying Electric Service Territory Change at USDA Laboratory in Ames

(Des Moines) – The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today issued an order modifying the electric service territory boundaries of Ames Municipal Utility and Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light Company (Alliant) within a portion of an Ames, Iowa, federal research facility.

The modification will place Alliant as the electric service provider to Building 21 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Centers for Animal Health (USDA) research and diagnostic facility in northeast Ames. The USDA’s 523-acre campus currently receives electric service from Alliant on roughly the north half of the property and from Ames’ municipal utility on the southern half.

The order in Docket No. FCU-2018-0007 concludes proceedings stemming from a 2018 complaint filed with the IUB by the USDA over concerns about safe and reliable electric service to Building 21. That building’s laboratory houses pathogens that could pose a moderate health risk to humans. USDA had claimed that Ames municipals’ service does not provide an adequate level of “reliable and redundant containment systems” to guarantee safe operation of the laboratories.

In August 2019, evidence presented at an IUB hearing supported the conclusion that “the public health and safety concerns associated with Building 21 would continue indefinitely” without action by the IUB. A subsequent IUB order in January 2020 supported an electric service territory modification and asked the parties to the proceeding to determine compensation for that change. Because the parties could not reach agreement on compensation, the IUB set a subsequent hearing for October 2021 to determine a final compensation amount.

Today’s order directs Alliant to pay $2,366,505 in compensation to the Ames municipal utility for loss of the service territory and specifies that Alliant cannot seek recovery of the compensation through any ratepayers other than USDA. Alliant and Ames Municipal now have 30 days to file new service territory maps with the IUB before the transfer will be considered complete.