(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Claire Askelson of Decorah):
"In the last several weeks I have been following the MEU proposal. During this time, I've been to three different presentations from both perspectives. Decorah Power has, for some reason, found it necessary to attack Alliant, to make Alliant look like "the bad guy." Decorah Power is doing this because they can't come up with good, viable reasons to support a MEU. Alliant has provided the best service and reliability to the Decorah area for many years. They are not a monopoly as Decorah Power suggests, as Alliant can only charge what is approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, which cannot be said for a MEU.
Municipal electric utilities are not regulated by the IUB, so if the MEU is managed poorly by its board, the MEU can charge whatever they deem necessary; just like we are seeing with Decorah's water and sewer rates. Citizens are currently looking at possible (water and sewer rate) increases of up to 30 percent, which the city council tabled so citizens don't think about how such a possibility could happen to a MEU.
Decorah Power talks about how reliability and service would improve, how it would create jobs and be good for the community. Decorah Power is saying these things based on other municipals, which of course, mean nothing as Decorah Power's proposal is not proven. With Alliant, we know what we have as Alliant is a proven leader in the industry and in Decorah. We need to take a look at what is being said here, with nothing to back up their claims. Decorah Power is continuing to say that Alliant's numbers are wrong and manipulated yet they cannot prove the validity of their own study. Alliant is a company that has many focuses, such as service to its customers, which is second to none. Alliant has several local employees, many more than a MEU could support.
As far as the community, I believe the MEU would do more harm than good. If I was looking for a place to move a large industry, I would definitely look at the power company in the area. If an inexperienced MEU was the provider, I would be looking somewhere else that has a power company with a long track record of service and reliability. This equates to jobs in our area. We could use more good paying jobs in Decorah and we need to keep the ones we have. If one of our factories closes its doors, where will 100-200 people find work?
NewGen Strategies and Solutions consultant Dave Berg early on made Decorah Power very happy when he knew for a "fact" that Alliant's system could be purchased for $5-6 million dollars. However, if you look on decorahnews.com, an article posted March 12th said Mr. Berg stated that Alliant's $50 million dollar valuation was $15 million too high (Actually, while we appreciate being quoted, our story did NOT say Berg stated the $15 million reduction was the ONLY area in which Alliant's figures were too high. Read our story at: http://www.decorahnews.com/archived-stories/2018/03/18764.html.) If you do the math, then that means Mr. Berg is now at $35 million and probably still rising as a figure to purchase the Alliant system. Alliant knows every component of the system and the components' value.
If you look at who donated to the Decorah Power feasibility study, you will find that these people and firms did so to make money from such a venture at the expense of Decorah citizens.
Decorah Power is also telling the public that all this vote does is "continue the conversation" and force Alliant to open its books to the city. I believe the conversation can continue WITHOUT a vote and it DOES NOT force Alliant to open its books to the city. Lawyers, accountants and experts get involved if this goes to the IUB and every request for information takes time and costs a lot of money.
Ironically, I haven't heard one complaint from any citizen about the service and reliability they have and continue to receive from Alliant. If you're happy with your current Alliant service, Vote No. If you don't want your taxes to skyrocket on account of a MEU, Vote No. Let's keep Decorah a progressive, vibrant and attractive community by Voting No!"