Decorah residents will go to the polls Tuesday, May 1, to decide whether the city should establish a municipal electric utility (MEU).
The referendum was officially scheduled by the Decorah City Council Monday night. At a Council work session last week, members reached consensus that the issue needs to go before voters sooner rather than later. Randy Schissel was the only Council member voting against the resolution setting the vote.
Alliant Energy currently provides the city’s electricity and its franchise with the city expires in May. A citizens group, Decorah Power, has been exploring the possibility of establishing a MEU that would provide electricity services the same way the city provides water and sewer services. City officials have stated they believe Alliant will continue to provide electricity to the city without a franchise agreement.
Decorah Power and Alliant recently presented the Council with their feasibility studies on establishing a MEU in Decorah. Decorah Power’s study estimated it would cost about $7.6 million to acquire Alliant’s infrastructure and start a MEU, while Alliant’s study estimated it would cost about $51 million.
If a simple majority of residents vote in favor of having a MEU, the matter will ultimately be decided by the Iowa Utility Board, which determines if it’s in the city’s best interest to have a MEU.