Just over 20 representatives from Iowa's rural electric cooperatives have returned from Washington, D.C., after discussing energy issues with Iowa’s congressional delegation earlier this week in the Legislative Fall Fly-in. Manager of Finance and Consumer Services Teresa Floyd, who made the trip on behalf of ECI REC, said, “Consistent communication and a physical presence with our elected officials is so important. The relationships we’ve developed allow us to represent our member-consumers’ best interests by limiting unnecessary regulation.”
The representatives carried the cooperative message to each of Iowa’s seven members of Congress on the following legislative measures:
Preserve the Power Marketing Administrations – The Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) are federal agencies within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with the primary purpose of marketing clean, renewable hydropower. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu has proposed major changes to the four PMAs affecting over 600 electric cooperatives in 34 states. Electric cooperatives are very concerned that this will:
- Increase costs for electric consumers and taxpayers.
- Unfairly target rural consumers with a regional energy tax.
- Transform the PMAs from marketers of renewable federal hydropower into technology test beds.
Iowa’s electric cooperatives urged Iowa’s members of Congress to continue to oppose Secretary Chu’s proposal to “repurpose” the PMAs.
For more information on this issue, visit ourenergy.coop and choose The Issues, then Affordability.
Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) – CCRs, including coal ash, should be treated as non-hazardous material. One approach proposed by the EPA, non-hazardous regulation of CCRs, will ensure that coal ash is handled safely and protect not just the environment, but also jobs and consumers. The other proposed option would deem CCRs hazardous. S. 3512 would continue regulating CCRs as non-hazardous materials, ensuring continued beneficial uses. The group urged Iowa's members of Congress to support or co-sponsor legislation that would treat coal ash as non-hazardous.
Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Funding in the 2013 Farm Bill – An important provision contained in both House and Senate versions of the 2013 Farm Bill reauthorizes a study of the impacts of rail monopolies on the economy of rural America. Important provisions contained in the House version will:
- Clarify that RUS borrowers are not required to conduct costly environmental reviews for paper transactions such as lien accommodations.
- Authorize RUS lending for baseload generation.
Iowa’s electric cooperatives thanked Iowa's Senators for supporting the 2013 Farm Bill. Cooperative representatives urged them to work with conferees to ensure that provisions impacting RUS remain in the bill if the bill goes to conference. They also urged Iowa's members of the House to encourage leadership to bring the bill to the floor.
For more information on the above issues, visit www.ourenergy.coop and choose The Issues, then Affordability.
A fourth area of concern is cyber security. The ability to remotely turn off a meter, one functionality associated with smart meters, is convenient for Cooperatives, but it also raises security concerns. Currently, the electric power industry works with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop clear, technologically sound, mandatory cyber security standards that are approved and enforced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, under S. 3414, FERC is given the authority to set cyber security requirements outside the NERC standards development model.
Cooperative representatives asked Senators Grassley and Harkin to oppose S. 3414, “The Cyber Security Act of 2012,” and work with Iowa’s electric cooperatives on legislation that improves cyber security, while maintaining the current NERC standards. They also asked the same of Iowa’s members of the House of Representatives.