When the Decorah City Council meets next Monday, March 20th, it will hear a presentation from a citizens group that is studying the concept of establishing a municipal electric utility in Decorah.
"This is about opportunities," stated Larry Grimstad, the president of the new group called "Decorah Power." "There are significant economic and sustainability opportunities for a community like Decorah in owning an electric utility. There are also significant challenges, and we want to learn more about those challenges and opportunities through a feasibility study."
The majority of Decorah's electricity is provided by Alliant Energy, an investor-owned electric utility headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. This power arrangement is currently being provided under a 25-year franchise agreement between the city and Alliant. The current agreement expires in May of 2018. But Iowa code allows all municipalities the right to apply for the creation of their own MEU, which is what Decorah Power is urging the city to consider before they renew the franchise agreement.
Grimstad also explained that city ownership of an MEU can provide a competitive edge for a community when it comes to attracting new businesses and jobs. In addition, an MEU can provide the community flexibility in developing community renewable energy projects as well as a broader scope of individual projects. Consumer-owned solar options are becoming increasingly restricted under the incumbent utility, and community or "shared" renewables are not available.
The issue will likely be brought to the Decorah City Council March 20th. Decorah Power invites the public to attend.
More information on Decorah Power can be found at www.decorahpower.org.