Heartland attends municipal leadership conferences

March 3, 2015

The geography may be different, but the concerns are similar for utilities in both Minnesota and Iowa. Several issues were discussed recently at both the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association Legislative Conference and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Leadership Conference. Heartland staff members recently attended both events held in Bloomington, Minnesota and Des Moines, Iowa, respectively.

Both conferences held various educational sessions for attendees with topics ranging from leadership in municipal utilities to planning for capital improvement. The results of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Integration and Transmission Study were reviewed at the MMUA conference, an update given on the state’s Conservation Improvement Program and new OSHA regulations reviewed. Topics in Iowa included ethics for public officials and social engineering, among others.

However, the biggest draw for most attendees was getting the chance to visit one-on-one with their legislators about issues facing the utility industry.

Utility officials in Minnesota were able to meet with their respective senators and representatives at the Capitol. The main topics of concern included the EPA’s proposed rule to reduce emissions from existing power plants. MMUA believes the plan presents very serious problems for Minnesota. Those in attendance talked to their delegation about not making any changes in state laws that would be affected by the rule until the final rule is made available. That includes increasing the state’s renewable energy standard. The association feels the time to consider revising the standard will come when the state’s implementation plan is in place.

For those unable to meet with legislators at the Capitol, MMUA held a reception at the Best Western Capitol Ridge, which was well attended. The reception was a new addition to the MMUA agenda and the group plans to continue holding it in the future.

In Iowa, a legislative reception was held at the Embassy Suites Des Moines. Attendees were able to visit with legislators about the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the association’s desire to phase out sales tax on residential water. IAMU, like most utility organizations, feels the implementation timeline is unrealistic and early action should be rewarded. IAMU states that water is the only essential service on which Iowans are still taxed and it disproportionately impacts those with lower incomes.

Both organizations support the expansion of broadband to unserved and underserved areas of their states. Access to reliable, fast and affordable broadband is necessary for community growth and economic success.

For more information about these organizations and legislative advocacy, visit www.mmua.org or www.iamu.org.