Businesses Voluntarily Turn Off the Heat

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It may seem like a crazy thing to do in this kind of cold, but several businesses are voluntarily shutting off the heat.

It's part of the "Iowa Gas Interruptible" program through Alliant Energy.

Those who choose to enroll are eligible for lower energy prices throughout the year. You may have heard of people participating in programs like this when it gets too hot in the summertime. Sometimes participants are asked to interrupt their natural gas during high heat usage too.

"You could see your breath in there for a while this morning," said Bill King.

King has worked at Williamsburg Manufacturing for 30 years. On Monday, the work day was a bit out of the ordinary.

"We didn't have heat," King said.

He said many bundled up after co-workers shared the news about the cold on social media or by text message.

"Gotta grab the long underwear and then the Carhartts and don't forget the stocking hat," King said.

Alliant Energy said Williamsburg Manufacturing is one of about 350 business and industrial customers that take part in the gas interruptible program. It's a voluntary program that gives participants a discount on their gas bill.

"We are not shutting gas off, but what we are telling them is that you can't use any gas and if you do, you are going to pay a penalty for it," said Alliant Energy Spokesman Justin Foss.

Foss said Alliant uses the program when demand for natural gas is at its highest and temperatures are at their lowest. Businesses that take part typically have another heat source.

"To tell you how cold it is right now, this is the first time we've had to use our industrial interruptible program since the late 90s," Foss said.

King said on this arctic day, the chilly atmosphere at work left a cold feeling just about everywhere.

"Kind of cold, cold attitude, everybody was kind of grumpy at it but, you know, what do you do?" King said.

The manufacturing employee did exactly what he had to do, he worked through the cold. He said eventually the company switched to another form of heat.

Alliant said every business is notified when the program is about to kick in. It started Sunday morning and will last until Tuesday morning at 9.
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