CEO’s Report – April 2016

April 4, 2016

Members of Heartland’s staff and board of directors recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the American Public Power Association Legislative Rally. The rally is held each year to give public power advocates the opportunity to talk to members of Congress about the direct impact federal action has at the local level.

Luckily we had nice weather as our group got their exercise for the day walking from building to building to visit with nine different senators and congressional staff members.

Our day started by attending the “Wyoming Wednesdays” event hosted by Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso. We had valuable one-on-one conversations with each senator and their staff members, mostly regarding the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and its potential impact on Laramie River Station, located in Wheatland, WY.

Both senators were supportive of our position and we provided them potential cost impacts the plan could have if implemented. They also expressed to us their additional concerns with the plan, namely for the coal industry in Wyoming and the thousands employed by it. Wyoming is the nation’s leader in coal production and the CPP could have disastrous effects on those jobs.

Also on our visit we met with staff members of Representative Steve King of Iowa, Representative Adrian Smith and Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz of Minnesota. We also met with South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds.

In reaching out to members of Congress from the various states we either produce power in or have customers in, we found our concerns were similar. Members on both sides of the aisle are worried about the effect the Clean Power Plan will have on businesses and residents. The dramatic increase in the cost of electricity will be devastating to many.

Fortunately for the electric utility industry, the CPP is currently on hold while the court hears legal challenges to it. However, each of the delegates we met with assured us they are still working to ensure the plan isn’t implemented as written. Rep. King is leading a task force on executive overreach. His team is anticipating a hearing in May that would focus on the abuse of power of the regulatory state, including the administration’s implementation of the CPP.

These meetings were incredibly valuable as they not only gave Heartland the chance to tell our story, but also provided for the beginning of an open line of communication. In each of our meetings, the importance of having data to back up their arguments was expressed, namely what the cost impacts are going to be. While the effects of the CPP are still widely unknown because of the nature of the plan’s directives to have each state implement their own plan, we were still able to provide cost estimates, and will continue to provide data to help fight the CPP.

As a follow up to our visits in DC, Senator Mike Rounds visited our headquarters in Madison April 1. The senator met with Heartland staff as well as other community leaders after speaking at Dakota State University at the DakotaCon event. Rounds also expressed frustration with policy being implemented at the federal level without Congressional approval and emphasized the need for local control. Representatives from different industries in Madison attended and asked questions about the state and future of healthcare, the current presidential election and funding for different projects.

Rounds touched on the Clean Power Plan during his visit, specifically stating that the plan has the ability to destroy the American economy. While he believes climate change is real, the CPP will have no measurable results in terms of a better environment, but will destroy jobs and increase costs at alarming rates.

We at Heartland are grateful to the political leaders who are fighting to keep electric rates affordable and who have the best interests of their constituents in mind. Heartland will continue to reach out to these supporters to offer assistance and provide data useful in hearings and committee meetings. Because we operate in different capacities in different states and the CPP will have different impacts in each one, cultivating these relationships is more important now than ever.