A war of words continues at the statehouse between backers of proposed new nuclear power plants and a lobbying group which opposes it. An ad by the A.A.R.P. urges defeat of bill, saying it would force utility rates up. State Senator Swati Dandekar, a Democrat from Marion, says the A.A.R.P. ad misleadingly as it refers to higher electric rates from a large nuclear power plant in Florida.
A.A.R.P. state director Bruce Koeppl does admit the Iowa proposal involves much less expensive smaller plants. “However, the bill does not limit the plant build to that smaller technology,” Koeppl says. Dandekar says the bill preserves the Consumer Advocates traditional role in rate hike requests, and nothing in the bill will raise rates or even authorize a new nuclear plant.
But Koeppl says the legislation breaks new ground by letting MidAmerican Energy raise rates ahead of plant construction. “This proposal allows utility companies to force customers to continue paying accumulated costs to the utility even if the plant is cancelled,” Koepple said. Statehouse switchboard operators report numerous calls from A.A.R.P. members to their lawmakers urging defeat of the bill.
Koepple estimates that A.A.R.P. members have made thousands of calls to lawmakers opposing the legislation, and the organization is spending thousands on its ads. Governor Terry Branstad said today he’s confident state regulators would have the ability to monitor the situation and protect rate-payers.