Members of several western Iowa electric cooperatives are fighting a proposal to raise the rates they pay for power generated from federal dams on the Missouri River. Kent Pauling, the C-E-O of the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative in Le Mars, says they now get the electricity at cost. He says federal officials want to raise the rates by 20-percent each year to reach so-called “market rates.” He says that would increase the cost of the power by and estimated five to ten million dollars. He says they have 30-thousand customers and that’s a fairly significant increase. Pauling says he understands many people believe they should pay the same electric costs as everyone else, but he says it’s not like they’ve been getting free power. He says they’ve been purchasing power from the dams since the 1950’s and he says they’ve been paying for the construction of the dams and the debt service. He says they’ve made their payments and generated dollars for the treasury, and he says there are not many government programs that do that. Pauling says they’re seeking help from Iowa’s congressmen to try and keep the rates from going up. He says it will take a grassroots effort. He says they plan to write to legislators and let them know what the dollar impact will be on western Iowa. Pauling says it’s likely there will be some increase in the rates, probably somewhere in-between no increase the and 20-percent increase.
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