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2016 NRECA Legislative Overview

REC advocates make most of valuable time in
Washington, D.C.

May 6, 2016 – Advocates from Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives have returned from a successful trip to the nation’s capital. While in D.C., advocates met with White House staff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and congressional staff and honored former Iowa Senator Tom 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.

Advocates met with Doug O’Brien, White House Domestic Policy Council, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building right next to the White House. The RECs highlighted their impact on rural economic development in the communities they serve. O’Brien explained to the group the importance of economic development in rural Iowa in relation to poverty, healthcare and education, and highlighted his goals as the senior policy advisor for rural affairs.

In a meeting with USDA officials, the importance of the RUS Loan and Grant Program was discussed. Representatives from the RECs touched on the importance of rural broadband and projects they are funding to help grow their communities. 

Iowa’s electric cooperatives also had the chance to meet with and honor former Senator Tom Harkin while in Washington, D.C.  Harkin was presented with a lineman statue in honor of his distinguished service to rural electrification. The statue will be displayed at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University.

Key issues were discussed with the staff of Iowa’s six congressional offices. The key issues that have the greatest impact on the 650,000 Iowans to whom the state’s electric cooperatives provide electricity included: FEMA disaster assistance, EPA’s 111(d) Clean Power Plan, geothermal tax credits and pole attachments.

Information was provided to each of Iowa’s six members of congress on the following issues:

  • FEMA Disaster Reform Act of 2015 – Thanked Iowa’s congressional delegation for their assistance and support ensuring that storm recovery would be granted to Iowa’s electric cooperatives who had been previously denied.
  • EPA’s 111(d) Clean Power Plan – Discussed the Clean Power Plan and how it could potentially affect co-op member-consumers in the state.
  • Geothermal tax credit – Asked members of Congress to support an extension of geothermal tax credits to include highly-efficient ground-source heat pumps.
  • Pole attachments – Asked Iowa’s congressional delegation to maintain the federal pole attachment exemption for electric cooperatives and keep our line personnel safe.
  • New caucuses – Asked Iowa’s representatives to consider joining the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus and the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus.
  • Coal ash – Asked Iowa’s senators to co-sponsor an updated version of the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act.

“I believe the staff of Iowa’s 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.” Phil Kinser, CEO/General Manager, Southwest Iowa REC.

Click HERE for a full PDF overview.

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