CMPAS Utilities Go the Distance in D.C.

From the back row left to right, Nate Zimmerman, Janesville General Manager, Christopher Kopel, CMPAS CEO, Scott Johnson, Springfield Electric Superintendent, Michael Schulte, Mountain Lake City Administrator, Steve Nasby, Windom City Administrator. From row left to right, Dave Meyer, Glencoe General Manager; Tim Stoner, Blue Earth General Manager, Paul Theisen, Sleepy Eye Public Utilities Commissioner; Bob Weiss, Sleepy Eye Public Utilities Commissioner; and Christina Pierson, CMPAS Director of Public Affairs.

After the return of seven CMPAS utilities from the American Public Power Association (APPA) Legislative Rally in Washington D.C., you can be sure that Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and policy staff were left well-informed for the final months of the 116th Congress. While at the rally, we joined more than 60 other peers in the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) and more than 1,000 nationally.

With the backdrop of House votes and changing schedules, CMPAS attendees met with elected leaders in private office meetings, a large group setting in the conference center, and a reception in the U.S. House Agriculture hearing room courtesy of Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson (MN-7). Several delegates in our group were first-time attendees of the rally, and they quickly learned that street blocks in D.C. are quite long as we moved between office buildings and the Capitol.

Our delegation included local public utility commissioners, utility managers, and city administrators, who alerted policymakers to public power concerns regarding budget and policy issues. Those included:

  • enhancing tax-exempt financing for electric infrastructure investments including the reinstatement of advance refunding bonds,
  • ensuring that tax-exempt utilities have access to comparable tax-based incentives for making energy and climate investments,
  • supporting climate policies that allow municipals flexibility in making investments to reduce emissions,
  • protecting the cost-based rate structure of the federal hydropower program for customers of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), and
  • preserving the utility industry’s assignment in the 6 GHZ spectrum band for communication systems.

Although the APPA Legislative Rally ended on a positive note, the quest to advocate and influence from the grassroots level continues. Our work on behalf of our customers is critical as we continue to educate about public power’s long-standing practices to reduce emissions and safely provide reliable, competitively-priced electricity.

As the likelihood of climate legislation increases, we will work to remind policymakers that climate legislation should give the power sector maximum flexibility to reduce emissions while maintaining a reliable grid and competitive rates.

Very soon, an opportunity to press these very same issues is coming up at the Minnesota Legislature. If you haven’t already, please register to attend the MMUA Legislative Conference March 31 and April 1, 2020.