Heartland Board President appointed for one-year term
American Public Power Association announced in December the appointment of Mark Joffer to the APPA Policy Makers Council. Joffer is the President of Heartland’s Board of Directors representing Subdivision 1, which includes Bon Homme, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, McCook and Turner Counties in South Dakota.
“I’m honored to have been selected by APPA,” Joffer said. “This role will allow me to help promote federal legislation that is important to public power as well as oppose potentially harmful legislation.”
The Policy Makers Council has 45 members made up of elected or appointed officials from the governing bodies of public power communities. The group meets twice a year in Washington, D.C. with elected representatives and congressional staff.
“These face-to-face meetings will allow me the opportunity to directly communicate issues important to Heartland, our customers and public power as a whole.”
Joffer was appointed as an At-Large Member and will serve a one-year term.
“We are thrilled to have our leadership joining the conversation in D.C.,” said Heartland CEO Russell Olson. “Advocacy is an important aspect of public power and Mark’s inclusion on the council will strengthen the voice of our customers.”
Proposal to sell PMA transmission assets is troublesome for power customers and providers
President Trump recently outlined his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. In it, he proposes to divest the transmission assets of the federal power marketing administrations, including Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).
Many of Heartland’s customers receive reliable, cost-based power generated at the federal hydropower dams through WAPA. Millions of Americans served by public power utilities and rural cooperatives depend on the PMAs and they are crucially important to rural communities.
This is not the first time this short-sighted proposal has come up and, as usual, it is being opposed on a bipartisan basis.
PMA rates are set to cover all generation and transmission costs, as well as repayment, with interest, of the federal investment in these hydropower projects. None of the costs are borne by taxpayers.
Federal power rates financially support the flood control, navigation, irrigation, water supply, wildlife enhancement, recreation and salinity control functions at these multipurpose federal dams. In many cases, federal water projects would not have been built but for the anticipated revenue associated with the sale of the power that is generated.
WAPA and the other PMAs also own and operate thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. These transmission facilities, in large part, were built and are operated to deliver the hydropower generated at federal water projects to the PMA customers. They serve as a backbone of the electric grid in our states. The sale of these PMA transmission assets would threaten the integration of these facilities with the PMAs’ power marketing responsibilities, raising rates and impairing grid reliability.
Sale of the PMAs’ transmission facilities would not advance the President’s infrastructure objectives. In fact, privatization of existing assets could affect opportunities for new infrastructure investments. Moreover, any private entity buying PMA assets will want to recover their investment. The resulting rate increases would take money out of the pockets of consumers and businesses in our states.
While work remains to ensure that PMAs are both transparent and accountable to customers, simply dismantling them is not sound governmental policy.
We will also be working to raise awareness of this issue through social media campaigns, using the hashtag #NoPMASale, and will submit letters to the editor in your local papers.
I would encourage you to reach out to your members of Congress and remind them of the benefits received from WAPA and the other PMAs. The ratepayers in our communities cannot afford the drastic rate increases that would come from this proposal. If you need assistance in drafting a message or locating contact information for your Congressional members, please let us know. Working together, we can ensure the president’s proposal doesn’t gain traction.
APPA seeking stories from member utilities in advocacy efforts
Tax-exempt municipal bonds are the primary source of funding for infrastructure that enables public power communities across the country to keep the lights on. Some members of Congress have been talking about removing this tax exemption as part of their larger tax reform measures.
The American Public Power Association has ramped up advocacy efforts to prevent this from happening because we know it will seriously impair your ability to serve your communities and raise prices for your customers.
But we can use your help – we need your stories.
If you’ve issued municipal bonds in the last 5 years to fund an electric infrastructure project in your community, would you let us know? If you’ve had new successes/accomplishments with an earlier bond-funded project, we’d love to hear about that, too.
We’ll work closely with you to highlight your “built by bonds” projects–in our news publications, website, social media, blogs and more.
What members of Congress most want to hear is what their constituents are doing and how the elimination of tax exemption on municipal bonds can impact them. So please let us know.
Just email email@example.com with a sentence or two about your project and we’ll take it from there.
P.S. Here are some examples of recent municipal bond stories we’ve covered–yours could be the next one!