Iowa's rural cooperatives in DC RUS and FEMA topics
DES MOINES, Iowa – May 5, 2011 – More than 30 representatives from Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives have returned from Washington, D.C., after discussing energy and environmental issues with Iowa’s congressional delegation earlier this week.
The purpose of the trip, an annual gathering of electric cooperatives from across the country, is to ensure Iowa 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, FEMA 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 with each of Iowa’s seven members of congress on the following legislative measures:
- Each year since Fiscal Year 2008, Congress has approved a $6.5 billion loan level for the RUS Electric Loan program. This loan level has not cost the federal government a single cent over that time. Electric cooperatives and RUS are careful and diligent when it comes to loan management, resulting in an excellent record of loan repayment. In fact, this low-cost, low-risk model will enable the RUS Electric Loan program to contribute more than $100 million to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction in Fiscal Year 2012. We support legislation that would allow electric cooperatives to use these funds to also invest in environmental improvements on existing power plants and invest in new natural gas, clean coal and nuclear technologies.
- Electric cooperatives rely significantly on FEMA funds to promptly restore power after severe natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms. Without FEMA assistance, many electric cooperative consumers living in these affected areas would face additional burdens of longer waits for service restoration and the potential for higher rates.Electric cooperatives support funding for FEMA to make sure that funds remain available for response and mitigation of natural disasters.
- Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) are materials produced when coal is burned to produce electricity. When properly managed, CCRs offer environmental and economic benefits without harm to public health and safety. Over the years, CCRs have been incorporated into productive, beneficial applications, such as roof shingles, wallboard, asphalt and bricks. For example, fly ash, a type of CCR, plays a critical role in highway construction because it costeffectively and safely increases concrete durability. The volume of CCRs being recycled and put to beneficial use has increased steadily through time and now constitutes about 45 percent of all CCRs produced, displacing the use of raw materials.
“I believe the Iowa congressional delegation now has a better understanding of how legislation being discussed in Congress would affect the affordability and reliability of electricity in Iowa,” said Brian Kading, executive vice president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives was formed in 1942 to represent the interests of, and provide support to, electric cooperatives in the state. As a whole, electric cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 650,000 Iowans in 210,000 homes, farms and businesses in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.