Backers of a bill which would deregulate electric utilities are beginning a final push, as House members will debate the bill next week. The group “Iowans for Electric Choice” staged a news conference Thursday to tout the idea of competition among power companies. Iowa Association of Business and Industry president Jim Aipperspach was among those who wore “Yes” buttons as they lobbied lawmakers. He says half of the United States have already deregulated the electric industry.Critics say the bill will bring higher power bills for southern Iowans who haven’t had a rate increase since 1984 — residents in and around towns like Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa and Creston. Jonathan Rogoff (roh’-gawf) of Alliant Energy says there’s no way to tell what rates will be once competition is introduced.Dan Culhane of the Mason City Economic Development Corporation leads the “Professional Developers of Iowa,” a consortion of local economic development agencies throughout the state. He says they need electric choice to get companies to come to the state.Mike Coverdale of the Iowa Community Action Association says poor Iowans will benefit if the bill becomes law.House Republican leaders say they’re not certain they have enough “yes” votes to pass the bill, and anticipate lawmakers will be heavily lobbied this weekend by those who support and oppose deregulation.
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