Iowa Electric Cooperatives Receive FEMA Disaster Aid from April 2013 Ice Storm
After two rounds of appeals to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), three Iowa not-for-profit electric cooperatives and one Iowa municipal electric utility will finally receive needed funding to pay for millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure damage caused by an April 2013 ice storm. The damage was so extensive that a Presidential Disaster Declaration was issued on May 6, 2013. Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative, Osceola Electric Cooperative, and Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative all sustained broken utility poles and damaged conductor, causing damage in excess of $19 million.
“We’re thankful to Governor Branstad and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for submitting the second appeal to FEMA. We also thank our Iowa congressional delegation for their continued support on this issue. This funding is greatly needed to the three electric co-ops that were affected and now they can continue providing reliable and affordable power to their member-owners,” remarked Chuck Soderberg, executive vice president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.
“This is great news for the rural electric cooperatives and municipal utility that were affected by a terrible ice storm in 2013,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. “I’m pleased to see FEMA’s willingness to listen to the appeal led by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who outlined the extensive damage suffered. I’d also like to thank our Iowa congressional delegation in assisting with this effort.”
IAEC is also grateful to the Iowa Utilities Board and to a coalition of Iowa agriculture, business, and utility organizations which had publically asked FEMA to reconsider the original denial of aid. Coalition members include: Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Area Development Group, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State Association of Counties, Iowa State Dairy Association, and the Iowa Turkey Federation
FEMA Region VII initially denied disaster aid funding to the Iowa utilities in August 2013, saying the utilities did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing to verify the damage was a direct result of the disaster. The State of Iowa submitted an appeal to FEMA in December 2013, which was denied in April 2015. A second appeal was submitted to FEMA in August 2015, and the denial of eligibility was reversed on March 17, 2016. The affected utilities are now eligible to use Public Assistance funding.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives represents the interests of not-for-profit electric cooperatives, 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 and are committed to delivering power that is safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible. Formed in 1942, 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.
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