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Alliant Energy, Iowa Lakes Electric Co-op talk increased heating bills, customer demand

It is a combination of increasing demand and a dangerous reliance on natural gas, with a pattern that is likely unsustainable for years to come.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After reporting on a 106% rise in the average MidAmerican Energy customer's bill from December 2020 to last month, Alliant Energy did not provide Local 5 with the same figure. 

However, the two companies did provide average monthly gas costs for 2021:

  • Alliant's cost per household: $68
  • MidAmerican's cost per household: $50

Local 5 spoke with representatives from two different Iowa utility companies, Alliant Energy and Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.

Iowa Lakes' headquarters is in Estherville, with nearly 5,000 miles of distribution lines across over a half dozen counties in northwestern Iowa.

They deal almost entirely with providing electric to their customers, but understand the challenges consumers are going through with those skyrocketing natural gas prices.

"This is a nationwide issue of increasing demands on the electric system and our reliance on natural gas," Tim Mccollough, incoming CEO of ILEC, said.

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Meanwhile, Alliant Energy serves 495,000 electric and 225,000 natural gas customers across Iowa. To keep prices as low as they can in the winter, they stay proactive during the warmer months.

"We buy and store some natural gas in the summer when prices are lower. Then this contracted storage is withdrawn during the home heating season when prices are typically higher," Alliant spokesperson Morgan Hawk said.

Outgoing CEO of ILEC, Rick Olesen, stressed this is a frustrating situation the industry is finding itself in.

"In my 40 years in this industry, this is the first time that we have not had enough generation to meet our demand," he said.

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