The Iowa Utilities Board Wednesday approved a temporary electric rate hike for Alliant Energy that was slightly less than what the company requested. The board approved a 10-point-nine percent increase — Alliant wanted an increase of 11-point-six percent to cover the cost of their new 400-million dollar power plant near Mason City. Company spokesman Ryan Stenslend. He says they feel the Utilities Board has supported their position that the new plant in necessary. Stenslend says customers will see an increase in their bills with the rate hike – a ballpark estimate would be seven to ten dollars per month. He says the rate increase will show up by the end of this month.Stensland hopes to get the boards written decision at the end of the week and says customers can expect to see increases on their July and August bills. Stenslend says the new plant is needed to keep the supply of power steady.He says they’re finding continual hits to the system during busy warm days, he says they have trouble getting power into the state and moving it around. Stenslend says the new station will provide an “instate source of generation that allows us to keep the power on for customers.” He says they want to avoid the transmission problems that’ve plagued other states.He says the blackouts that hit the northeast are a concern here too. He says they try to prevent those problems by investing in infrastructure. This increase is only temporary, as the company has requested a 16-point-three percent permanent rate hike. Consumer Advocate John Perkins says his office will investigate the permanent request before the final decision by the utilities board in January.He says they’ll make their recommendation to the board and it will presumably be less than the $149 million the company asked for. He says it’s hard to tell where the rate will end up.Two years ago they asked for 82 million dollars, the advocate asked for a decrease of 22 million dollars, the board gave them 24 million dollars. Perkins says the bigger question is how soon the board will force Alliant to equalize the rates between customers in the northern and southern halves of the state. Perkins say his office is recommending a slow increase of the rates in the southern half of the state over the next three to seven years.
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