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Local voters attend Alliant town hall ahead of Nov. 7 vote

October 27, 2017
Traer Star-Clipper

Voters asked a number of important questions at Alliant Energy's town hall meeting Tuesday night. The energy company held the meeting to talk about why voters should vote NO in the November 7th election.

"As a company with thousands of gas customers and gas-operated power plants, we use our buying power to leverage long-term, low cost natural gas supply contracts. Those agreements help us better predict pricing and pass the savings on to you," Terry Kouba, vice president of operations for Alliant Energy told the crowd. "In fact, our natural gas costs are passed directly on to you - so you pay what we pay. If you go back and look over your old gas bills, you'll see that they've gone down 19%."

And while those costs have gone down, two of the most recently formed municipal gas utilities are charging more according to Alliant - much more. At a previous meeting on the vote held by the TMU, speakers from Alton and Mapleton's municipal gas utilities talked to the crowd about their rates, saying they kept Mid American's rates after they took over Mid American's system.

"What they didn't tell you is that those customers are paying 22-35% more than you are right now," Randy Bauer, director of operational resources told the crowd.

Bauer also told the crowd that he sees three different areas in the city's updated feasibility study that don't add up. "Part of the reason this updated study looks so good is because the estimates to buy our gas system in Traer, the costs to get up and running, and the estimated operations costs are all way too low."

Several people asked questions about what their vote really means. Some thought that the TMU or the city will have to ask voters to approve final plans if the issue passes. "If you read the ballot language, that's just not the case. You don't get another vote, "Mike Wagner, corporate communications program manager told one supporter after the meeting. "This election is your last chance to vote on this issue. Your no vote is your final opportunity to tell the city you want to keep Alliant Energy working for Traer."

Alliant Energy serves the Traer area with a 13-member gas crew out of its Marshalltown office. It has workers on standby 24/7 to respond to gas emergencies. The company also talked about how its first responders quickly "make safe" a leaking gas pipe, while repair crews are dispatched to patch the hole.

"Every one of our gas crew members goes through 8,000 hours of training before we consider them fully qualified, "Dee Brown, regional director of customer operations said.

Alliant Energy will host a second town hall meeting on November 2 from 6:30 7:30 p.m. to answer voter questions. It also will host an informal pre-Election Day open house on November 6 from 2:00-8:00 p.m. Both events will be held at the North Tama Activity Center.



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