Dreams of coal-powered prosperity may have died in 2009, but city officials are confident a new natural gas-powered generating station will usher in a new era of energy for Marshalltown.
Alliant Energy plans to build a $750 million power plant it announced Thursday to a room packed with supporters at the Best Western Regency.
"Anytime a company looks to invest that amount of capital in your community, there is going to be some trickle down," Tom Deimerly, president of Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee, said.
T-R PHOTO BY LUKE STALZER
Alliant Energy announced plans to build a natural gas-fired generating station in Marshalltown Thursday afternoon. The proposed $750 million plant would be build southwest of the current Sutherland Generating Station, shown here, on the east side of Marshalltown.
Alliant is seeking regulatory approval to construct the facility on land it acquired in 2007 to build a coal plant, just southwest of its Sutherland Generating Station. That project fell through in March 2009, much to the chagrin of Marshalltown residents.
"We too were disappointed that we didn't cross the finish line," Tom Aller, president of Interstate Power and Light Co., the Alliant subsidiary, said.
The 600-megawatt plant is just shy of the electrical output projected for the coal plant. It will provide energy to 500,000 customers, employ roughly 20 to 30 permanent employees and will create hundreds of construction jobs, Aller said.
Marshalltown beat out 116 other cities in contention for the plant, he said.
Many said the announcement demonstrates Alliant's commitment to bringing safe, reliable energy to its customers.
City officials said they look forward to working with Alliant to bring the project to life.
"We dared not hope because of the disappointment we felt years back," Bethany Wirin, mayor pro-tem, said. "Marshalltown never gave up on Alliant."
Alliant plans to spend more than $1 billion over the next five years investing in nuclear power, building gas-fired stations and making its coal plants operate more efficiently.
Deimerly said not only will the station generate tax revenue for the city, but it will also add to Marshalltown's infrastructure and could possibly be a springboard for other development.
Gov. Terry Branstad issued a statement lauding Alliant's decision, saying it would help his goal of creating new jobs.
"This expansion helps drive Iowa's economy and creates good-paying, quality jobs in our state," he said.
Deimerly said existing infrastructure, in particular the water plant, helped keep Marshalltown in the running.
"This should definitely push Marshalltown to get companies to come here," Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, said.
Bob Wenner, at-large council member, said while the city is excited about the prospect of the station, it will by no means be a rubber stamp. He said just as Alliant and MEDIC respected due diligence to get to this point, so will the city when it comes to its role in ensuring the station is a success.
Alliant will await Iowa Utilities Board's decision once it submits the regulation requests later this year. If all goes as expected, construction crews would break ground at the end of 2013 and complete the station in mid-2017.
Aller, among others, said it was unfortunate Mayor Gene Beach, who is in the hospital, could not be present for the announcement. Beach has always been a staunch supporter of bringing an energy plant to Marshalltown, he said.