End-of-Session Remarks from Iowa’s Electric Cooperatives
Reducing filing paperwork and protecting the safety of line workers were two major electric cooperative priorities that were accomplished in the Iowa General Assembly this year. Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) Board Chairman Steve Seidl praised Iowa legislators for their efforts to enact bipartisan, common-sense regulatory relief in SF 331 which eliminated costly and duplicative energy efficiency reporting requirements. “Streamlining the regulation and reporting system is a great way to let our cooperative employees spend more time delivering energy efficiency solutions to members and less time filling out paperwork,” explained Seidl. “This is the type of work that constituents don’t hear much about, but it makes a positive difference in our ability to deliver affordable and reliable power.”
Efforts to increase the safety of electric utility line workers were successful in legislation that added electric utility vehicles to Iowa’s “Move Over or Slow Down” law. HF 314, signed by the Governor on April 20, clarified the definition of a utility vehicle. A better definition in the Iowa Code will provide a platform for an upcoming public awareness campaign and increased efforts to highlight this issue in driver training programs.
IAEC also supported legislation to bring parity and fairness to the Iowa Code sections on property tax exemptions by adding an exemption from increased property tax value for installation of geothermal energy systems. “We support an all of-the-above energy strategy and that includes support of geothermal energy. HF 614 provided a property tax exemption, not a tax credit, to bring parity with other renewable energy sources,” explained Seidl. Unfortunately, while the legislature did pass bills that will have more immediate impacts on the General Fund like SF 505, HF 614 did not make its way to the Governor’s desk. The bill did receive approval from the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 24-0 and will be eligible for debate again in 2018. “We will be back next year on this issue and hope the Legislature will fix the tax imbalance that geothermal faces in Iowa,” said Seidl.
House Resolution 14 celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, highlighting the achievements and importance of rural electrification in Iowa. “Rural electric cooperatives are dedicated to improving the lives of rural Iowans. We believe this today in 2017 just as strongly as our founders believed it in 1942,” noted Seidl. “We thank the General Assembly for taking the time to recognize our ongoing efforts to empower local communities.”
Finally, IAEC also supported legislation contained in the Economic Development budget to move the Iowa Energy Center to the Iowa Economic Development Authority to achieve better accountability and remove duplication in a thirty-year-old program. According to Seidl, “This move will ensure more oversight and less administrative costs for a program that is funded by utility rate payers, including electric cooperative member-consumers. The idea to bring the Energy Center into alignment with the EDA’s Energy Office was envisioned in the Iowa Energy Plan and will allow for a better refocus of priorities.”
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives represents the interests of not-for-profit electric cooperatives in the state, including 35 distribution co-ops and 7 generation and transmission co-ops. Owned by the members they serve, Iowa’s electric cooperatives power the lives of 650,000 Iowans throughout all 99 counties and are committed to delivering power that is safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible. Formed 75 years ago, IAEC provides many vital functions for its members including legislative representation, regulatory oversight, training and education services, safety programs, and communications support. Learn more at www.iowarec.org.
For More Information:
Erin Campbell, IAEC Communications Director
515-727-8945 / firstname.lastname@example.org