Wapello County's "Chief Wapello" above the courthouse

Courier file photo 

OTTUMWA — County supervisors will protest Alliant Energy’s proposed rate hike with a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board.

Alliant is seeking a 25 percent increase. The IUB held a hearing two weeks ago in Ottumwa to receive comments. Unsurprisingly, the reaction was not positive.

The increase would create a significant new cost for both residents and large utility customers. And in many cases that increase will hit residents twice.

“Ours is going to go up $60,000, $70,000. Indian Hills is going to go up more than that. The citizens are going to have to pay for that, on top of their own going up 25 percent,” said Supervisor Jerry Parker.

Many of the criticisms leveled during the May 8 IUB hearing focused on whether Alliant’s rate increase is excessive. And the concerns go well beyond Ottumwa. Residents of several area communities drove to town to attend and let the IUB hear their concerns.

Several steps must take place before any rate hike is approved. While Alliant has already instituted an increase pending the IUB decision, it is not for the full amount. And that increase must be refunded if the IUB decides on an amount lower than what the interim rate is.

The Office of the Consumer Advocate is also taking a look at the request and will produce an independent report on the request.

The IUB will hold separate hearings on the request to raise gas rates and electrical rates. The electrical rate hearing comes first and is scheduled for October. The natural gas increase will have a hearing in November.

Public comments can still be left through the IUB website at iub.iowa.gov.

Supervisors also approved the lease-purchase of five tandem dump trucks and one tandem truck tractor during Tuesday’s meeting. Changes to Iowa law made the $658,763 purchase a bit different from previous, similar purchases.

“It used to be on lease purchases we just signed the agreement with the purchase,” Parker said. But the changes now require more review. “It’s almost the same as a bond issue as far as the legal counsel required.”

The county retained its bonding attorney for the legal reviews needed for the purchase.