The new president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives says he’s already faced some serious challenges since taking office — virtually all of them thanks to the wicked winter weather. Marion Denger, of Dows, says the big snow and ice storm that blanketed much of Iowa on December 10th-11th was the most damaging event the state’s co-ops have dealt with in many years.
Denger says: "Mainly from the southwest to the northeast has been effected the most. There’s been, out of nine co-ops that were effected, 11-hundred customers were out at the peak of the storm and six of them asked for help from the other RECs." Several lesser storms since the mid-December have kept crews hopping, responding to power outages due to trees and limbs that fell under the weight of heavy snow or strong winds. He did not have a damage estimate. The long, cold winter has made it hard for some Iowa customers to keep up with their utility bills, though Denger says they haven’t had to raise electric rates — yet.
"Energy costs are going up about eight or nine percent. Most of the co-ops have been able to hold the line on their infrastructure costs but with the price of poles and wires continuing to rise, we all know at some time, that will have to increase also," Denger says. He says Iowa’s electric co-ops are involved with many types of renewable energy systems, including wind, solar and methane. Denger says Iowa co-ops invested nearly 12-million dollars in energy efficiency programs and services to save member-consumers more than 18-million. He says he supports Governor Culver’s rally cry this week that Iowans try to conserve power and use more renewable energy sources.
Denger says: "We have quite a program in our RECs and also throughout the state. Energy efficiency, trying to get them all the information they can. Have them change to C-F-Ls instead of the regular light bulbs and the new style of heating systems can help them reduce their bills." The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives encompasses 43 co-ops in all 99 of the state’s counties, serving 210-thousand homes, farms and businesses.