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Power Struggle: Iowa Muni Campaign Heats Up Ahead of Public Vote

By District Energy posted 04-09-2018 00:00


Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network


In a northeastern Iowa community, voters will weigh in on whether to replace its investor-owned electric company with a municipal utility.

Voters in Decorah, Iowa, will decide May 1 whether they want the city to move ahead with a proposal to leave their current electricity provider and create a city-owned utility to take its place.

Campaigns on both sides are in high gear. Yard signs declare “Municipalization = Higher Rates. Vote No” in blue and “Vote Yes! For Public Power” in red. Interstate Power & Light, the incumbent utility, has purchased a billboard along a highway leading into town and large ads in local newspapers.

According to municipalization advocates, the utility, which is based 100 miles south in Cedar Rapids, has hired a community liaison to represent it at community gatherings. “He comes to all of our meetings, and even tried to come to one of our volunteer trainings,” said Emily Anne Neal, who is coordinating the pro-municipalization Decorah Power campaign. “We knew who he was, and we told him to leave.”

Nevertheless, she added, “He’s a very nice guy.”

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