- The town of Decorah, Iowa, is the latest municipality to consider ditching its incumbent electric utility in search of a cleaner power mix, Midwest Energy News reports.
- The town's franchise agreement with Alliant Energy expires May 31 of next year. Decorah Power's web site explains what the process would look like, including a feasibility study and a public vote on the idea.
- State law allows communities to establish a municipal electric utility if it is in the “public interest.” According to Decorah Power, there are more than 130 munis in Iowa and 125 in neighboring Minnesota.
The Decorah Power website tries to make the municipalization process appear more like a molehill, but observers are quick to acknowledge the mountain in front of the small town.
“The road is long and hard,” American Public Power Association's Tobias Sellier told Midwest Energy News. “As you’d imagine, few investor-owned utilities are quick to give up their service territory."
But town organizers say the fight would be worth it, despite the limited time available. As in other instances, the push for more clean energy is a driving force, and town officials tout economic opportunities involved in creating its own utility. If the city approves the muni plan, officials would file a municipal electric utility application with the Iowa Utilities Board and purchase the necessary electrical infrastructure.
That simplifies quite a bit what could be a long and contentious process. The city of Boulder, Colorado has become the cautionary tale for local governments considering forming a public power entity, locking horns with incumbent utility Xcel Energy for the past seven years. Earlier this year, the Boulder City Council voted 6-3 to continue litigation aimed at forming a municipal electric utility.