Pella Chronicle

May 17, 2013

RUS funding and EPA regulations were the focus of discussions with congressional staff in the nation’s capital


The Chronicle

Pella —

Pella Cooperative Electric CEO John Smith and Board member Sam Nichols, along with about 30 other representatives from Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives, have returned from Washington, D.C. They discussed energy and environmental issues with staff members from Congressmen Loebsack and Braley and Senators Grassley and Harkin.
The purpose of the trip, an annual gathering of electric cooperatives from across the country, is to ensure Iowa’s elected officials are fully aware of the thoughts and concerns of their constituents who are served by electric cooperatives in Iowa. 
The key issues that have the greatest impact on the 650,000 Iowans to whom the state’s electric cooperatives provide electricity included Rural Utility Service funding and opposing designating coal ash as hazardous.
“If not addressed properly, these issues will jeopardize our ability to provide reliable and affordable electricity to the Iowans we serve,” said Marion Denger, president of the board of directors for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. 
Information was left for each of Iowa’s six members of congress on the following issues:
RUS funding and rural economic development – Thanked all of Iowa’s Congressmen who have signed and/or supported the RUS dear colleague letter supporting the adequate loan level that administration requested for the RUS Electric Loan Program and for rejecting any further restrictions on the purposes for which electric cooperatives may borrow from RUS. Asked Iowa’s Senators to please support RUS funding and sign the RUS dear colleague letter. Provided members of Congress examples of how Iowa’s electric cooperatives promote and assist with rural economic development.
Coal ash – Asked for support of the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2013 (CAROA), bipartisan legislation to establish a federal regulatory program to ensure the safe management of CCRs as a non-hazardous waste material. 
Water heaters – Encouraged members of Congress to work with the DOE to find a workable program that allows co-ops to use electric resistance water heaters in demand-response programs that save consumers money; and weigh in with the DOE and urge it to quickly establish a workable waiver.
Pole attachments – Asked congress to maintain the cooperative exemption from the federal pole attachment statute and reject any recommendation from telecommunications or broadcast interests that electric cooperatives should be subject to federal pole attachment regulations. 
Storm recovery – Asked Congress to continue to work with FEMA, supporting the assistance they provide to Iowa’s electric cooperatives following storms such as the recent April ice storm in northwest Iowa.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency – Provided examples of how the electric cooperatives are engaged in renewable energy and energy efficiency. 
 “I believe the Iowa congressional delegation now has a better understanding of how legislation and regulations being discussed in Congress would affect the affordability and reliability of electricity in Iowa,” John Smith, CEO of Pella Cooperative Electric said.
Pella Cooperative Electric is a member-owned utility and serves electricity to several communities and rural areas in Jasper, Mahaska, Marion, Poweshiek and Warren counties.