People protest Alliant Energy's announced rate hikes

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Protestors gathered outside of Alliant Energy in downtown Cedar Rapids this afternoon- after Alliant told customers they will see a spike in their bills starting next month.

Protestors gathered outside of Alliant Energy's offices on 1st St. SE in Cedar Rapids to express frustration with soon-to-come spikes in their energy bills. (Aaron Scheinblum, KCRG)

The protest Saturday came in response to Alliant Energy's decision to invest in green energy. Some customers responded to the soon-to-come increased costs by taking to the streets- specifically, in front of the Alliant Energy offices on 1st St. SE in Cedar Rapids.

Saturday afternoon served as a chorus hall for car horns in downtown Cedar Rapids. Signs from people protesting outside Alliant Energy encouraged others to honk for lower rates.

We're going to be expressing our constitutional rights and getting our voice out there," said Steven Kenney, who organized the protest online. "Letting Alliant know that we're not too happy with their decision to raise our rates on already struggling people."

The protest was organized on Facebook. The event on Facebook shows more than 500 went, and thousands were interested. Only about 30 people showed up.

Alliant did not plan to send anyone to the protest- but that didn't deter those that did.

"We're still getting the message out there, and in my opinion, Alliant doesn't want to be here because they're cowards," Kenney said. "And they know that we're on to their lies, and on to their greed, and we're not going to stand for it."

Starting next month, it would increase a homeowner's bill by about eight dollars. Next year, it would go up an additional $12- that serves as about a 25-percent increase in less than two years.

"I think the majority of Americans support solar and wind," said Bert Miller, a solar panel owner who was protesting Alliant Energy. "What we don't support is a monopoly being able to charge whatever they want."

Terry Kouba, who serves as President of Alliant Energy defended the looming increase

earlier this week.

"Over that long term, decades, all those benefits almost offset all the costs associated with installing that wind," Kouba said.

TV9's Chief Investigative Reporter Josh Scheinblum asked if it's a long-term investment, how much a customer will save in those coming years.

"if we don't do this rate increase, how much more am I going to be paying? Why is this in my best interest?" Scheinblum asked.

"Let me answer it this way: continuously in our organization we're evaluating projects and how they will impact customers, positively and negatively," Kouba responded.

But the long-term investment is not something the protesting customers are buying as an acceptable answer.

"Greed and everything is running rampant all over our nation," Kenney said. "And if we can start, just a little bit right here in our own state, it's a good thing."

The Iowa Utilities Board will hold meetings on Alliant Energy's proposed spike in the coming weeks for customers to provide for public input.