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News Brief

Nov. 8, 2023 |  By: Mark Moran - Public News Service

Senior advocates push back on Alliant utility increase


By Mark Moran - Public News Service

The Iowa Utilities Board is taking public input this week on a proposed rate hike by one of the state's biggest gas and electric service providers. Advocates for lower-income Iowans and seniors are pushing back.

Alliant Energy is proposing to increase natural gas and electric rates by nearly $300 million over the next two years, with a 13% hike in electricity rates and a 5% hike for gas, which would translate to paying $250 more per year for the average residential customer.

Brad Anderson, state director of AARP Iowa, said it would have a dramatic impact on Iowa's most vulnerable seniors, who have already seen the price of their basic needs increase.

"For example, prescription drugs. You see housing costs across Iowa soar. You see gas prices go up and down, and certainly at the grocery store," Anderson outlined. "Older Iowans on a fixed income simply cannot afford paying another $250 a year for their utility bill."

Alliant countered it is adjusting rates to be able to provide safe, reliable utility service statewide and to make a profit for shareholders. The state's utilities board is scheduled to take public comment tonight in Creston and tomorrow night online.

Alliant argued the rate hike will help it reach a 10% profit for shareholders and allow the company to modernize its technology. But Anderson stressed it would come on the backs of seniors and low-income households.

"We do ask the Iowa Utilities Board to question whether these increases are needed today," Anderson emphasized. "And ask Alliant to explain whether that increased spending on fiber and grid modernization is justified, at a time where older Iowans on a fixed income are really struggling."