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OTTUMWA — The city council is being asked to consider a resolution opposing Alliant Energy’s proposed rate hike, and the language in the draft doesn’t mince words.

Resolution No. 129-2019 notes the proposed increase would raise base rates 24.45 percent for residential customers, 18.36 percent for general service customers and 25.29 percent for large general service customers.

“Alliant Energy’s rates are already higher than the other investor-owned utility serving Iowa, and also higher [than] the state averages for municipal electrical utilities and rural electric cooperatives in all customer classes,” the resolution reads in part.

The draft doesn’t just criticize the increase, but attacks Alliant’s business practices. It accuses the company of aggressively pursuing “legislation and regulation limiting the ability of customers and communities to save money and keep energy dollars local, including slashing the energy efficiency programs, working to overturn net metering, and creating and proposing separate classes and fees for distributed generation customers.”

The proposed increases to both electrical and gas rates come 13 years after Alliant significantly raised rates in southeast Iowa as part of a “rate equalization” program. The company justified the increases, which lowered rates in other parts of the state, by saying it was revenue neutral. A company spokesman said at the time that calling the move a rate hike was inaccurate and that it was “really taking customer rates in Dubuque and making them the same as those in Cedar Rapids or Ottumwa.”

The company sought another increase in 2009, and filed again for an increase in 2017. The state approved an increase to natural gas rates in 2018, though for less than what Alliant wanted.

The cumulative effect has been significant. The city’s proposed resolution accuses Alliant of “causing serious hardship for low- and moderate-income households, fixed income households, small businesses, industries, nonprofit institutions, educational institutions, and the City of Ottumwa, as well as “creating a hindrance for economic development.”

The resolution isn’t the only energy-related issue on the agenda. The council will also receive a report on the solar panel feasibility study. The city first began looking at the option last summer, and in April officials said initial results suggested solar energy could cut costs at the Beach.

The council’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

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Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.