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IUB to Hold Rate Hike Hearing in Keokuk

Jason Parrott
Several hundred people attended an IUB-sponsored public input session in September on a proposed natural gas rate hike.

The Iowa Utilities Board has selected a new location for its hearing on Liberty Utilities’ request to increase natural gas rates in and around Keokuk. The hearing will be held at the Grand Theater in Keokuk Feb. 22 and 23, 2017.

Liberty Utilities is seeking permission from the IUB to increase its annual revenues by roughly $1 million. The rate increase would be implemented in three phases.

The hearing was originally scheduled for the IUB’s office in Des Moines. But an order from the board, issued Nov. 17, establishes the new location:

“The board… concludes that holding the hearing in Keokuk is appropriate in this case because the service area for the utility seeking the rate increase is limited to one community and because the board has determined that an adequate facility (the Grand Theater) in that community is available.”

The report goes on to state that, “Holding the hearing in Keokuk will allow affected rate payers to observe the proceeding more conveniently and in person. The board concludes that benefit outweighs the anticipated costs associated with moving the hearing.”

In September, several hundred people attended a public input session held by the IUB at Hawthorne Elementary in Keokuk, with more than a dozen speaking out against the proposed rate increase.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion said the city will work to have even more people attend during the February hearing dates to demonstrate the local opposition.

Initial information provided to customers said the rate hike could be as much as 45% for residents and 88% for commercial businesses.

Liberty Utilities said those numbers were misleading, projecting increases half or even a quarter of that amount.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.