Report is against Alliant rate hike

Published 11:15 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

Administrative Law Judge Bruce Johnson with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings issued a report to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission suggesting modifications and reductions to Alliant Energy’s 22 percent rate hike.

“If the PUC accepted the order as proposed I would expect there to be a rebate,” Richard Savelkoul, attorney for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said.

However, a possible rebate would be far in the future for customers. Now that the recommendation was made both parties can disagree with any part. Savelkoul estimated that in mid-June both parties will be able to make oral arguments to the PUC, and a final ruling would be made July 21. Either party could then appeal the ruling, which could further draw out the process.

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Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen said that he’s optimistic about the report. He also said the ultimate decision is up to the PUC and a long process is ahead.

“We’re excited about the fact our efforts have been heard,” Rasmussen said.

Interstate Power & Light, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy, filed a request to change the rates with the Public Utilities Commission in May of 2010, and a collection of interim rates began in July and August of 2010. The interim rate increases are subject to refund depending on the results of the case.

The request would increase the company’s annual revenues by 22 percent, or $15 million. The interim rate increases were about a 20.1 percent increase, though the impact of the proposed change will vary depending on customer class.