Tiny spinners help big birds fly safely

The tiny metal spinners that hang from our power lines near Burlington, Iowa, aren’t just fun to look at. They also provide a warning sign for birds that call a nearby lake home.

“A trumpeter swan can weigh 35 pounds or more,” says customer Henry Bohlen. “A bird that big can‘t necessarily turn on a dime. The spinners make it easier to see the lines from far away and steer clear.” 

Around 200 trumpeter swans winter on Henry’s lake each year. He’s part of an Iowa group that helped bring the birds back from the brink of extinction. 

Henry contacted our Burlington Operations Center looking for help after two of the swans hit the lines. Our crews looked for solutions and installed more than 20 of the spinning devices around the lake. The National Trumpeter Swan Society later thanked Alliant Energy for its work to save the birds. 
“The spinners work perfectly,” Henry says. ”We haven’t had one problem since they were installed.” 

Staying safe is a community effort

We consider emergency responders and public officials our partners in prevention.

We share information and participate in meetings with other pipeline companies. We also work with emergency responders to help them understand the risks of natural gas and the best ways to prepare for, prevent and respond to a pipeline emergency.

Take March's PowerHouse Challenge

Choose the right light for you. Find the perfect bulb to get the lighting you need, and save energy, too.

Visit powerhousetv.com for challenge details and to find more ways to save.


Suspect a gas leak?

What to do:

  • Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way off.
  • Turn off and abandon machinery.
  • Leave the area and keep others away.
  • Call 1-800-ALLIANT from a remote location – do not return until we confirm it is safe.
  • If you hear blowing gas, which is an even more serious issue, evacuate to a remote location and call 911.

What not to do:

  • Don’t try to find, repair or extinguish a burning leak.
  • Don’t move appliances or machinery.
  • Don’t strike matches or create a flame/spark of any kind.
  • Don’t use a telephone or cellphone until you are out of the area. (These can ignite vapors.)
  • Don’t turn on or off any light or electrical switches or use garage door openers. (These may also ignite airborne gases.)

Do you know where utility lines are buried on your property?

Communities have many different buried utility lines, including natural gas pipelines, electrical, water, cable and internet lines. They aren’t buried as deeply as you might think. 

The leading cause of pipeline accidents is homeowners and contractors who dig or excavate without calling 811.

A call to 811 will send a professional locator to your property to mark natural gas and other utility-owned lines in the ground leading up to your meter. Locators will not mark privately owned fuel lines, like those running to a garage, pool or fireplace. Privately owned lines are not installed or maintained by Alliant Energy, and customers are responsible for them.

Follow these three rules:

  1. Call 811 before you dig. 811 is the national phone number that initiates the process of locating and marking the underground utility lines in your yard or at your job. Call 811 several business days before you dig.
  2. Wait the required time for utility lines to be marked. Personnel from the One Call Center will notify us to mark the approximate locations of buried gas or electric lines with high-visibility safety paint and/or flags. There is no charge for this locating service.
  3. Respect the marks or flags, and dig with care. When you start digging, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Hand dig with extreme caution if you must excavate within the safety tolerance zone.

    Call 1-800-ALLIANT if your digging equipment or tools contact our underground pipelines or electrical lines. Even minor damage, such as nicks, scratches, cuts, scrapes, dents and gouges, can result in pipeline failure, electric shock or a major incident in the future if not properly assessed. If you hear blowing gas, which is a more serious problem, call 911 immediately from a safe location.

    To learn more, visit call811.com or call:

    In Wisconsin: 
    Diggers Hotline

    In Iowa: 
    Iowa One Call

How natural gas gets to you

Pipelines are a safe and reliable way to transport natural gas, and accidents are relatively rare.

Here’s how it travels to your home.

  • Natural gas comes from the earth. It travels to your community through underground transmission pipelines. There are more than two million miles of pipelines in the U.S.
  • When the gas gets to your community, the local distribution company, such as Alliant Energy, adds the odorant to help detect leaks.
  • Inside your community, the gas travels through pipelines called mains. Mains are often buried under or along streets.
  • From there, a smaller service line brings the gas to your meter. Service lines are buried in yards.

After the gas passes through a meter, it belongs to the customer.

Customers are responsible for installing and maintaining the piping that natural gas flows through to reach appliances and equipment.

To learn more about our integrity management program or other natural gas pipeline safety topics, call 1-800-ALLIANT or visit alliantenergy.com/pipelinesafety

Don’t rely on your nose alone: Get a natural gas detector

Alliant Energy adds a distinct odor to natural gas to alert you of a potential leak. But there are some situations in which your sense of smell alone may not be enough to detect a leak. Individuals with a known inability to smell are especially vulnerable.

Some people may not be able to detect the odorant because they have a diminished sense of smell or because they have smelled the same odor for too long (olfactory fatigue). Additionally, other odors in an area – like cooking or chemical smells – can mask the smell of the odorant we add to natural gas. Certain conditions in pipes or soil may also cause the odor to fade. In all these cases, your sense of smell is not enough to detect a natural gas leak.

You should not rely solely on your sense of smell to determine if natural gas is present.

Purchase and install a natural gas detector for another layer of protection.