Alliant seeks energy rate hike

CLINTON — Alliant Energy has proposed a base rate increase for customers starting this spring.

Alliant communications official Mike Wagner said Thursday that the company has filed a request with the Iowa Utilities Board for an increase of 2 percent (averaging $8 per month) beginning in April, then a jump to 5 percent (averaging $12 per month) beginning in January 2020.

A local public hearing on the proposed rate hike will be 5:30 p.m. May 22 at the Clinton Community College Tech Center.

The increases, according to Wagner, are being utilized to support certain operation investments the company has made recently that aim to improve several aspects of the customer experience.

"The main drivers behind the base increase are our commitment to clean energy initiatives in the future, and customer service enhancements," Wagner said Thursday. "There are a lot of factors that go into these decisions, but we've had a lot of customers telling us to support cleaner energy."

The rate increase will also support the company's ongoing "smart meter" installation process, Wagner said. The new meters, according to officials, give customers more accurate energy usage readings and give them a better ability to adjust their usage, in theory creating a more accurate bill.

Wagner said the expanded use of wind energy has already cut down on fuel costs because "wind doesn't need fuel," and has created somewhat of a balance with customer billing.

"We're seeing investments already paying off for our customers with some of these things," Wagner said. "While the base rate is getting an increase, customers should be seeing some decreases on other parts of the bill because of some of these investments. It's kind of balancing out."

In a "Notice of proposed electric rate increase," a message from Iowa Alliant President Gerry Kouba said the base rate increases show the company is "focused on continuing to build a strong energy future and help the communities we serve remain vibrant."