Pending electric rate shocks: Make your voice heard

By Jim Martin-Schramm

Luther College is facing a 48.2 percent increase in its Alliant Energy bill if the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) approves the company’s proposed electric rate increase.

“You can imagine my dismay when our Director of Facilities Services informed me that Alliant’s proposed electric rate increase would not increase our bill by 20 percent, as the company estimates in their customer notice, but rather by 36 percent under Phase I ($371,464) and an additional $85,700 after Phase II. The total increase is calculated to be $457,200 or 48.2 percent increase over our 2022-23 invoice totals,” said President Jenifer K. Ward in comments sent to the Iowa Utilities Board on Feb. 13, 2024.

President Ward goes on to say: “In my view, Alliant’s proposed increase is punitive and unjust. It will have a severe negative impact on Luther College, and the significant proposed increases for residential customers (13.4 percent) and small businesses (20 percent) are going to harm Luther’s employees and Decorah’s vital downtown businesses.”

One of those downtown businesses is the award-winning restaurant, Rubaiyat. An analysis performed by the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa (CEDI) has revealed that the restaurant is facing a 38 percent increase in its electricity bill, which is almost twice the 20 percent average increase Alliant has told businesses that they will experience.

“I’m just sick about the potential of that big of an increase. . . I feel so helpless and frustrated,” said Rubaiyat co-owner, Kim Carlson-Bonnet.

Other analyses performed by CEDI for local businesses and institutions in the area indicate that some customers will likely have larger increases than the average 20 percent increase the company has projected. The same will likely be true for residential customers.

One of the things driving Alliant’s increased costs is the cost of electricity in the summer. It is scheduled to increase 57.4 percent for residential customers and 87 percent for business customers. Some businesses will see their summer electricity bills more than double. More homeowners and renters will have to decide between buying food and medicine or paying the electric bill.

Alliant’s proposal to raise electric rates is its third in seven years, and the largest in its history. Alliant’s residential rates are almost the highest in the State of Iowa and third highest in the Midwest among investor-owned utilities of similar size.

If you are concerned about how this rate increase could affect your home or business, make your voice heard. The Iowa Utilities Board encourages all citizens and ratepayers to voice their perspectives to the Board by submitting comments by email to customer@iub.iowa.gov or by mail to Iowa Utilities Board, 1375 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319-0069. All communication should reference Docket RPU-2023-0002 in the subject line of the email or letter.

Jim Martin-Schramm serves as a Policy Analyst for the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa and as the manager of the CEDI Coalition, which is an official intervenor in the Alliant rate case.

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