Back Print

Is the NewGen feasibility study "the City of Decorah's?"

Posted: Wed, Apr 4, 2018 2:31 PM

(Dave e-mails Mr. (Electric) Answer Person: "A recent ad by Citizens for Decorah Power states: 'the City of Decorah commissioned its in-depth feasibility study from an industry-leading energy analysis firm, NewGen Strategies and Solutions.'  Is this statement correct?  I understood that this study was commissioned by Citizens for Decorah Power, a private entity, not by the City of Decorah."):

Mr. (Electric) Answer Person says: "None of the cost of the feasibility study was paid by the City of Decorah, so it can't be "its" feasibility study.  Here's the City of Decorah's tie to the feasibility study: Our story from March of 2017 stated, 'the city council approved allowing Decorah Power to say the feasibility study is 'authorized by the City of Decorah,' although city council members took pains to state that this did not represent a financial commitment.'

The Citizens for Decorah Power ad in March 27th's Public Opinion says, 'These findings are part of the City of Decorah's in-depth feasibility study,' while the Citizens for Decorah Power ad in April 3rd's Public Opinion says, 'The City of Decorah commissioned its in-depth feasibility study from (New Gen).' 

Mr. (Electric) Answer Person believes these statements are inaccurate at best and misleading at worst.  There's a saying in journalism--'follow the money.'  In this case, all of the money for the NewGen feasibility study was put up by Decorah Power, so it's the Decorah Power feasibility study, even if it was 'authorized by the City of Decorah.'"

(Decorah Power responded to our article by saying: "We apologize for any miscommunication that may have occurred from our ads, we felt the definition of the word 'commissioned' was equivalent to that of 'authorized,' we can see how others might not feel the same.

The Decorah City council did authorize Decorah Power to conduct a feasibility study on behalf of the citizens of Decorah, but they did not pay for it as you mentioned correctly. Decorah Power in fact volunteered to raise funds for the study, which came from over 200 Decorah residents and businesses and a grant from the USDA. A national search identified NewGen Strategies and Solutions as the most qualified firm, and some of the top energy experts in Iowa consulted with NewGen to ensure their study followed all relevant Iowa Utilities Board precedent and guidance.

During the same meeting in March of 2017, the Council also appointed Council liaison Steve Luse to Decorah Power to participate in the process. Steve kept the Council apprised with regular updates, and twice this process resulted in formal action Council related to the NewGen study: first to request aggregate customer and energy usage data from Alliant for the Decorah area to make the study as accurate as possible; and second to briefly delay smart meter implementation until Council can analyze the study and determine next steps. Alliant rejected both Council requests.  This history strongly suggests the Council itself has a good deal of ownership in the NewGen feasibility study, and that is why we understand and refer to it as 'Decorah's" study.'")