Albert Lea’s opposition to excessive rate hike draws public support, makes news

On behalf of the City of Albert Lea, Flaherty & Hood recently reached out to area residents and businesses to ensure high attendance and vocal opposition to Alliant Energy’s proposed 22 percent electric rate increase at a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) public hearing (to read more about the rate hike issue, click here). As a result of these turn-out efforts, nearly 200 people attended the public hearing—some driving as far as two hours away and in treacherous weather—and voiced strong opposition to Alliant Energy’s proposed increase with a unified message. Flaherty & Hood prepared three key points around which residents framed their opposition, including that the rate hike was unfair due to the sale of unmaintained transmission lines to ITC Corporation and the subsequent renting back of these same lines at much higher prices, the huge overpayment for a large wind farm, and finally the attempt to have Minnesota ratepayers pay for a coal plant Alliant Energy never built.

As a result of Flaherty & Hood’s outreach efforts, the hearing may have set a record for highest attendance of any public utility hearing, which is impressive considering other utilities have much larger service areas. Senior media advisor Glen Fladeboe also ensured that area media was informed of the hearing, which resulted in extensive coverage. Click on a link below to read these newspaper and television reports.

The City of Albert Lea is encouraged to continue pressing this issue after the Iowa Utility Board denied Alliant Energy its proposed 14 percent electric rate increase for Iowa customers. Instead, the utility board approved a 9 percent increase and recommended a review of the energy conglomerate’s management and affiliate transactions. To learn more about the Iowa ruling, read the Albert Lea Tribune’s report on the matter, which quotes Flaherty & Hood attorney Joe Sullivan on the potential influence of the Iowa decision in Minnesota.

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