To the Editor:
I've been closely following local discussions and meetings on the future of our natural gas service in Traer. I am deeply concerned about the possibility of our Traer Municipal Utilities buying the natural gas system currently owned and operated by Alliant Energy/ Interstate Power and Light.
First, the thought of our city taking over a business currently operated by a capable private company is something I'm not in favor of happening. Alliant Energy has proven to be more than capable of managing our natural gas needs, safely and at a fair price, just as they do for other customers across Iowa.
Point #14 in a recent letter stated, " There is a positive monetary value to Traer, over a 25 year period, of $761,000." Actually, we are going to be using natural gas in 25 years? President Obama wants other sources of energy being consumed, wind power, solar power, and the use of our renewable resources and alternative fuels. Why doesn't TMU agree to put up a wind tower like Waverly is doing? It seems to me we will be back-peddling if TMU takes over the natural gas system and then we will have to pay an exorbitant price for our utilities. Another fact is that most of us probably won't be around to see this "great" monetary value and reap its benefits.
Alliant Energy has the ability to spread the risk of purchasing natural gas on a changeable market across their service territory. Alliant has experts who buy and sell natural gas on the market daily. I am sure that Traer would hire (yet another person) to manage this task of purchasing natural gas, thus being an additional cost of natural gas to us customers. And too, such person would need a pickup or van to go to meetings, and office, computer, and probably a special telephone line to the markets to "get the best price." So, it's not just hiring a person responsible for the natural gas services, which person by the way, would also need a pickup, office, computer, tools, inventory, and lots of training. Is this person going to be on the job 24/7, 52 weeks a year? When does he get time off and who will take his place when he is not available? Will he also be a certified gas man? Will this person just sit around in his office waiting for a trouble call, or what will be his duties otherwise?
Another issue I have is what is going to happen to the price charged to us for this gas? If TMU takes over the natural gas franchise, they can charge anything they want and when they want. TMU is not regulated or under the jurisdiction of utility companies like private, investor-owned utilities such as Alliant. TMU would be under no checks and balances or regulations to be followed. We've already seen what happened to our electric rates going up with little warning and I'm not ready to see the same thing happen to our natural gas bill. If our electricity would have been an investor-owned utility, application would have been made to the Utility Board and approval given to increase this rate- not by being given a one-month advance notice that our rates would be going up 52% in the next three years. By the way, you can expect a 15% electrical rate increase on your April billing.
Yet another piece of information you should be aware of is the portion of your current (Alliant) natural gas bill Alliant takes out for salaries for the Alliant executives is approximately $2.00/year. Just to pay the TMU General Manager salary, approximately $100 a year comes out of your Traer utility bill!
I am definitely voting YES for Alliant to maintain our natural gas service. It's MY MONEY and my reasons for voting for Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light.YES-YES-YES