Meeting set on t rate hike

Monday, May 08, 2017

By MATT MILNER
Managing Editor

OTTUMWA — Alliant Energy announced in March it is seeking a rate increase for Iowa customers. Those customers have a chance to respond later this month.

Alliant’s request is for a rate hike of 11.6 percent, which would bring in an additional $176 million per year. That’s the overall increase, though, including business customers.

Residential customers would see an increase of approximately 12.5 percent. The IUB estimates the average residential customer would pay an additional $14.26 per month.

The Iowa Utilities Board has scheduled a meeting in Ottumwa for 5:30 p.m. May 23 at Bridge View Center.

The IUB said there will be a way for people to participate online, though those details have not been revealed yet.

A similar meeting on a 2010 rate hike proposal drew about 60 people, mostly in opposition to the increase.

Joel Schmidt, Alliant’s vice president for regulatory affairs, said in March that much of the increase will go toward installation of new power lines — including 100 miles in Wapello County — maintenance of existing lines and installation of a new generating station.

The proposed rate increase ends a freeze on base rates for customers that was put in place in 2011. It ran through 2016. The freeze came after a 2010 push by the Office of Consumer Advocate to lower Alliant’s rates.

Rates went up in April under a provision in Iowa law that allows utilities to! implement a temporary rate after requesting a permanent rate! hike. If the IUB decides against allowing Alliant to raise rates to at least the 8.3 percent April increase, Alliant would have to refund customers’ money with interest.

The proposed increase has already seen some sparring over the schedule for

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a decision and intervention by outside parties. On April 26, the IUB set a deadline of July 10 for intervening parties to file testimony. The Office of Consumer Advocate objected, saying it would take at least until Aug. 1 for it to complete its research on the proposal. The office called the deadline an "unexplained departure from previous Board practice" and noted the OCA had 17 weeks to research and respond last time Alliant sought an increase.

That issue appears to be in the process of being resolved, with OCA receiving a new deadline of Aug. 1 to submit direct testimony.

Comments from the public are being accepted. The IUB said the most effective comments are concise and make specific points about the proposal.! Comments may be submitted through the IUB’s electronic comment form (https:// iub.iowa.gov/Alliant-IPLElectric- comment- form), by email to customer@iub.iowa.gov or by mail to Iowa Utilities Board, Chief Operations Officer, Docket No. RPU-2017-0001, 1375 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0069.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner @ottumwacourier.com and followed @mwmilner.

Category: Infrastructure

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