Back Print

Iowa Utilities Board hears lots of complaints about Alliant Energy's proposed rate hike

Posted: Thu, May 2, 2019 7:53 PM
Decorah Mayor Lorraine Borowski (right) and Luther VP of Finance Eric Runestad (left)

One after another, Decorah residents got up to speak to Iowa Utilities Board members Thursday night to voice their displeasure with the proposed rate increase filed by Alliant Energy.

The three IUB members were in town for a public comment session--and they heard a lot of comments.  Decorah mayor Lorraine Borowski read the Decorah City Council's resolution in opposition to the rate increase and said Alliant was responsible "for a significant breach of trust."  Luther College VP of Finance Eric Runestad said the proposed rate increase could cost Luther another $264,000 a year.  Runestad said "a 24 percent rate hike at a time of record profitability is not justified," adding that Alliant instead should be given the 1 percent rate increase Alliant had said its rates would increase yearly during last year's municipal electric utility referendum.

Last year on May 1st, Decorah voters went to the polls to vote on studying a municipal electric utility--and decided to stay with Alliant by a 3 vote margin.  Decorah resident Tim Wagner said he disliked "the sheer dishonesty" of Alliant campaign last year.

Two members of the Winneshiek Medical Center Board of Trustees--Karl Jacobsen and Karen McLain--also gave testimony, with Jacobsen saying the rate increase would cost WMC at least another $50,000 a year and McLain accusing Alliant of "bait and switch" since last year's election.

NICC Vice President of Finance David Dahms said the proposed increase would cost the school another $86,000 a year, which would lead to tuition increases.  Dahms said many NICC students rely on financial aid and "any (Alliant) increase will impact students."  Rural Decorah resident Jon Jensen concluded, "People in this area would be better served by almost any provider."

Alliant Energy Iowa President Terry Kouba attended the hearing.  Kouba announced that last year's feasibility study done by Concentric Energy Advisors "was accurate at the time it was made," but Alliant has ordered an update on the study, with the results becoming available "in a few weeks."

Iowa Utility Board members have set October 7th, 8th and 9th as the dates for meeting in Des Moines to review Alliant's rate hike request.  IUB members have five more public comment sessions schedule later this month on the Alliant request.

Iowa Utility Board members listen to testimony
Over 150 people attended the public hearing