FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2013
CONTACT: TIM COONAN, 515-991-3916
Iowa’s electric cooperatives urge action on disaster aid denial during congressional delegation meeting
DES MOINES, IA – Representatives of Iowa’s electric cooperatives travel to Washington, D.C., today to discuss a recent decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deny federal disaster aid, and potentially force Iowa’s electric cooperatives to repay millions in disaster aid previously awarded.
“FEMA’s decision to dramatically change the policy on awarding federal disaster aid to Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives is a betrayal of the public’s trust and jeopardizes the future of the cooperatives many member-consumers in rural Iowa depend upon,” said Marion Denger, president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. “We look forward to meeting with representatives from Iowa’s congressional delegation in order to discuss the impact that FEMA’s decision will have on thousands of their constituents and ask for their assistance as we encourage FEMA to reverse their policy change.”
Following a late winter snow, ice and wind storm in April, a federally declared Major Disaster included Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux and O’Brien counties. Three of Iowa’s electric cooperatives and two municipal utilities suffered damage.
In response to past disaster-related damage, FEMA has followed a policy where visually observable criteria were used to determine if power lines had been damaged beyond the point of repair. FEMA reversed this long-standing policy and denied disaster aid applications following the April storm.
For the first time in the nation, FEMA has stated that disaster aid could not be issued because the affected electric cooperatives did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing on every mile of wire on an annual basis. This test is not performed as a matter of industry practice or requires them to meet any industry or engineering standard. It is also not required by the Iowa Utilities Board, which regulates Iowa’s electric cooperatives and required them to submit reliability plans and inspection and maintenance plans.
“Our top priority is providing member-consumers in rural Iowa with reliable and affordable power. We hope FEMA will realize their decision is not in the best interest of Iowans and that they will work with us to find an alternative way forward,” added Denger.