Localism Versus Wealth Extraction
Fighting the Alliant Rate Increase
Andy Johnson, Director
Hundreds of people packed the Hotel Winneshiek opera house on May 2nd to voice their opposition to Alliant’s roughly 25% proposed rate hike. Thousands of comments have been submitted to the Iowa Utilities Board demonstrating that Iowans are united against the uncontrolled, rapid, repeated rise in rates.
Widespread shock and anger have focused on Alliant’s blatantly false claims during the 2018 municipalization debate – in their feasibility study and public presentations – that their rates would rise no more than 1% per year on average for at least 20 years. Alliant’s last rate hike was 2017, and they have already testified to the Utilities Board they will likely file to raise rates AGAIN within one or two years after the current case.
Will any objection matter? Is there a way to slow, stop, or even reverse this trajectory?
Your Energy District is doing our best to be sure that you’re heard. We’re leading a local coalition including the City of Decorah, the Winneshiek Medical Center, Luther College, and Aase Haugen Senior Services to submit testimony in the rate case at the Iowa Utilities Board. The testimony is focused largely on keeping our energy dollars right here at home, where they build community and sustainability.
Currently, electricity payments to Alliant can be seen largely as wealth extraction from Decorah and other Iowa communities. Sure, some of our payments go towards salaries for local Alliant employees – those are good jobs held by good people. But Alliant actually has very few employees in Decorah or Winneshiek County, yet Decorahans already spend well over $10 million/year on electricity, so obviously, most of that represents a major economic drain on the community.
We need to 1) plug the leaks, by bringing concrete analysis to the Utilities Board showing how Alliant’s costs could be kept down, and 2) promote local investment at home, by opposing Alliant tariffs, policies, and actions that prevent or exclude customers and communities from investing in energy efficiency, locally owned solar, and other “distributed energy resources”.
We are working with multiple expert witnesses, a lead Iowa energy attorney, and our intervention partners to build this case. Energy District members and sponsors help us do this work – THANK YOU! – and the growing resistance from thousands of households, farms, businesses, industries, educational institutions, city councils, and others is sending a loud message to the Utilities Board that enough is enough.
We’ll keep you posted, and meanwhile, here are a few other media resources if you’d like to read further:
- The Iowa Utilities Board and Office of Consumer Advocate page on the current rate case docket, including links to an information handout and online customer comment form.
- Our April WED newsletter article on this case, which includes more history and numbers:
- Decorah newspaper coverage of the Utility Board’s customer comment meeting in Decorah on May 2nd, and the Decorah Now’s posting of the Decorah City Council’s resolution opposing the rate increase.