Like many of you, we’ve been seeing posts online by people saying their electrical bills have shot up by far more than Alliant Energy’s interim rate would allow, or even their proposed rate hike if it was approved in full by the Iowa Utilities Board.
The situation should be instructive for both Alliant and the IUB. Alliant has overreached. Its greed has gone too far. It’s time for the state to say no.
The message should be far more than no, truth be told. It should be “enough.” It should be “knock it off.” It should make it clear that Alliant’s constant demands for increases have finally worn out the company’s credibility, that they have made it clear there is no limit to what they will want.
In 2002, Interstate Power and Light, an Alliant subsidiary, asked for an increase. The IUB allowed a 2.88 percent increase in 2003. More requests followed in 2006. And 2009. And 2017. All have been for more than 5 percent. The current request is about 25 percent.
It wouldn’t surprise us, amid the constant badgering, if Alliant Energy representatives have spent more time at IUB meetings than the current IUB members. These requests came as Alliant’s stock price rose from around $20 per share in 2010 to about $50 today.
Alliant has repeatedly said, “this is what we need.” Then, within a year or two, what Alliant needed isn’t enough. The demands increase in both frequency and amount. It’s clear that, to Alliant, enough is never enough. If this were geopolitics, there would be some distinctly unflattering comparisons which could be drawn.
As it is, though, this is business. We said in June, when Alliant came sniffing around Ottumwa to inquire about the city’s plans for solar power, that the company’s actions are explicable only by use of the word greed. Increasing prices are one thing. They happen over time. What Alliant is doing is unmoored by either inflation or good business practices, but appears to be having the clear effect of driving up their stock’s value.
The IUB lists Geri Huser, Nick Wagner and Richard Lozier as board members. Those three people will determine whether Alliant’s greed continues unchecked. But that doesn’t mean area residents are voiceless.
Go to the IUB website. The comment form is at https://iub.iowa.gov/online-services/open-docket-comment-form.
The form is remarkably straightforward for a government document. And it’s easy to mark the Alliant cases as the ones to which your comments should be attached. There are two. While the electricity case is garnering the most attention, there is also a request to jack up rates for natural gas.
There is no guarantee that Huser, Wagner and Lozier will listen to protests from area residents. The IUB’s record has generally shown favor to rate increase requests. Send your protests anyway. It’s much harder to ignore a blizzard of comments than a flurry. It certainly undermines the potential argument that if no one is protesting, they must not be too worried.
Remember, though, that invective is unlikely to carry the day. Arguments need to be stated calmly. The issues for local consumers need to be clear, without a fog of anger obscuring the points.
If the past is any guide, Alliant will be back soon enough even if it loses this bid to get its hands deeper into your pockets. But it’s time for the IUB to deliver a rebuke strong enough to give the company pause.