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Letter to the Editor: "If you want to know the truth about the claims that Alliant has been making, vote YES to give the IUB the chance to investigate"

Posted: Sat, Apr 14, 2018 3:48 PM

(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Carly Hayden Foster of Decorah):

"If you get mail in Decorah, you know that Alliant Energy has been sending postcards to everyone in town claiming that a municipal utility would result in higher rates for Decorah residents. Alliant has also been running radio ads, sponsoring billboard ads, distributing yard signs, and paying people to make phone calls and knock on our doors, alleging that municipalization would result in higher rates.

Alliant's claims about higher rates are demonstrably wrong. Many organizations, including the American Association for Public Power and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, track rate comparisons between publicly owned utilities and investor owned utilities. Those organizations consistently find that municipal electric utility customers pay rates that are, on average, lower than investor owned utility customers. In reality, Alliant's rates are even higher than the rates of other investor-owned utilities in Iowa. There is no factual basis for Alliant's untruthful claim about higher rates resulting from electrical municipalization. And yet, Alliant keeps repeating these unfounded allegations.

In 2008, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) rejected the application from a group of five Iowa communities (Everly, Kalona, Rolfe, Terril and Wellman), in part because the IUB concluded that the communities didn't do enough to prove the claims that they made to voters about the benefits of municipal electric utilities. Today, the claims that Alliant is making about rates are far more exaggerated, unfounded, and untruthful than any claims made by those advocating for public power in that 2008 case. If Alliant is successful in defeating the Decorah referendum, the Iowa Utility Board will never get the chance to review this case. A 'Yes' vote from the city of Decorah is required before the city of Decorah could decide to file an application for creating a municipal electric utility to the Iowa Utility Board (IUB), and only then would the IUB get to review the case and examine the facts.  

Is Alliant's behavior in this campaign legal? Do Alliant's postcard, billboards, and yard signs violate Iowa laws regarding truth in advertising? If Alliant is using dishonest advertising to avoid oversight and investigation from the Iowa Utility Board, is this a violation of Iowa law? Why is Alliant, a regulated monopoly, allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on preventing Decorah from filing an application to the IUB in the first case?

I filed a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General's Office asking these questions, but the residents of Decorah should also consider them. If you want to know the truth about the claims that Alliant has been making, vote YES to give the IUB the chance to investigate. Early voting is now open at the courthouse, weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m."