Thursday, September 13

Local Politics: Mid-American Agreement Being Pushed Through?

Are Iowa City politics pushing a tentative franchise agreement with Mid-American Energy?

The timing of this agreement and the city council primary in mid-October causes speculation that without this being a done deal, at-large city council candidate Terry Smith, who is in upper management with MidAmerican, would be in a "rock and a hard place" position. Clearly, if the franchise is not approved before the new year, Smith would have to recuse himself from voting on it. However, if it is approved, he would still be in a position to vote on projects that directly benefit his company, including easement agreements, commercial and residential housing developments.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to set public hearings on Oct. 2 to consider ordinances granting MidAmerican electric and natural gas franchises. The majority of the council would then have to vote in favor of the ordinances for the franchises to take effect. A public hearing is required under Iowa Code.

The deal spans 10 years, including the option for a ten year and five year renewal.

The franchises would be for a period of 10 years, with options for 10-year and five-year renewals for a total of 25 years.

Iowa law prohibits another municipal power vote for four years following an unsuccessful referendum. Also, a city-run system cannot be considered while a franchise agreement is in effect.

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