It's all dependent on level of advancment, commitment, and weight class.
If your a hardcore superheavy who's been at it for a few years, than fat is going to do more to make you awsome than it would for a begginer or intermediate, or someone who's short enough to worry about having an efficient strength to weight ratio.
The concern for beginners and intermediates is that body fat apperently affects testosterone:estrogen ratios, and so in the long term they'll make more gains if they stay leaner. (The fat will help you lift more today, but it might cost you pounds down the road). For people who are more advanced, and commited, this isn't of the same signifigance.
As someone who's over 6 feet tall (and as such can never really be too heavy) I try to gain no less than 1 pound per month, but no more than 3. I did that for a couple years, and than I did a "cut" this winter / spring. And man do I miss that fat on squat day. But I'm just about back to where I was on most of my lifts, and I'm a good bit lighter.
Now I'll gain the weight back slowly, and be stronger than ever. But I can do that because I'm not "advanced" yet. I've only been at it for a couple years. When I've got enough years under my belt to be advanced, than I'll have to ask myself if I'm commited enough to be a superheavy, and at that point the fat will either be worthwhile, or I'll give up powerlifting, drop all my weight and go join a boy band. But until you get to that point I don't think it's worth it. Certainly not for a "newbie" as the thread title says.