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13% electricity hike too much

We know from past experience the final rate granted by the Iowa Utilities Board will not be 13 percent, but just the same today are urging the board to allow as little a rate increase as possible to cover expenses, as there are many individuals and companies who cannot afford any more.

Hearings began last week on Alliant Energy's request for a 13 percent electricity rate hike.

We know from past experience the final rate granted by the Iowa Utilities Board will not be 13 percent, but just the same today are urging the board to allow as little a rate increase as possible to cover expenses, as there are many individuals and companies who cannot afford any more.

The increase sought by Interstate Power & Light, a subsidiary of Alliant, would yield $149.9 million to the utility. It said it needs the money to offset additional transmission costs, recover the cost of building the $478 million Whispering Willows East wind farm south of Hampton, recover $3.4 million for past improvements to a generating station in Cedar Rapids, and for environmental controls at its Lansing power plant.

The increase would be on top of a 7 percent rate increase in January, mainly to pay for costs of recovering from record floods in June 2008 and ice storms in recent winters.

The increase sought by Alliant before the 7 percent was granted was 18 percent. So if a similar percentage is granted, customers can expect the current 13 percent increase will result... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Hearings began last week on Alliant Energy's request for a 13 percent electricity rate hike.

We know from past experience the final rate granted by the Iowa Utilities Board will not be 13 percent, but just the same today are urging the board to allow as little a rate increase as possible to cover expenses, as there are many individuals and companies who cannot afford any more.

The increase sought by Interstate Power & Light, a subsidiary of Alliant, would yield $149.9 million to the utility. It said it needs the money to offset additional transmission costs, recover the cost of building the $478 million Whispering Willows East wind farm south of Hampton, recover $3.4 million for past improvements to a generating station in Cedar Rapids, and for environmental controls at its Lansing power plant.

The increase would be on top of a 7 percent rate increase in January, mainly to pay for costs of recovering from record floods in June 2008 and ice storms in recent winters.

The increase sought by Alliant before the 7 percent was granted was 18 percent. So if a similar percentage is granted, customers can expect the current 13 percent increase will result in a 5 percent increase. That's still pretty hefty for such a short time between increases.

We are pleased, though, with the utility's investment in wind power in our region. The company has invested $478 million investment in the Whispering Willow-East Wind Farm in Franklin County. According to Alliant, the farm is powering nearly 50,000 Iowa homes with clean, renewable energy.

Green energy is not expensive, Alliant officials have said, nor is installation of pollution control equipment, such as the $188 million investment to reduce emissions from the Lansing power plant.

The consumer advocate office has asked the utilities board to deny the increase and instead order Alliant to reduce electric rates by $1.8 million.

The Mason City Chamber of Commerce has not officially taken a stance on the current rate hike request, but did so last year when the 18 percent request was in play.

Members have expressed concern the current proposal could make Mason City less competitive, said Robin Anderson, executive director of the chamber. She said the chamber helped organize a meeting in June between local members and Alliant officials. From a customer service standpoint, members are satisfied with Alliant, but are concerned their rates will not be competitive in the foreseeable future, she said.

Anderson pointed to a survey of chamber members in 2009. More than 100 members responded. An alarming rate, more than 15 percent, said the rate increases sought at that time would threaten their ability to continue operating in Mason City.

Also, 88 businesses responded to a question about whether utility rates would be considered in a decision to expand in the near future. Sixty-four said they would.

Asked which utility cost impacted their business the most, 69 percent said electricity, 29.9 percent natural gas and one percent water.

Obviously our region's economic fortunes are closely linked to having competitive, reliable energy. We appreciate Alliant's reliability and its overall fine standing as a corporate citizen, but ask that it - and mainly the Iowa Utilities Board - go as lightly as possible with this rate increase.


Source: http://www.globegazette.com...

SEP 27 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28209-13-electricity-hike-too-much
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