At the NRECA Legislative Conference April 24-26, representatives from Iowa’s electric cooperatives attended briefings on key issues affecting the electric industry and met with Iowa’s congressional delegation to discuss priorities. Larry Rohach, director, and Kathy Taylor, vice president, corporate relations, represented Corn Belt Power Cooperative at the event.
Iowa’s electric co-ops discussed how President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, the Farm Bill reauthorization, and geothermal tax credits are important issues to Iowa’s electric co-op members.
Iowa advocates met with Doug Hoelscher, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, and Michael Catanzaro, special assistant to the President for domestic energy and environmental policy, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. They discussed Executive Orders on regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S.
Hoelscher, a native Iowan, detailed some of the President’s recently released budget proposals. While the impacts on programs varied, Hoelscher made clear to the RECs that the President is serious about the country’s debt and deficit problem.
Catanzaro detailed the work of the administration on environmental and energy regulations. He urged groups like the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives to continue communicating how to reduce regulatory burdens that inhibit the delivery of reliable and affordable energy to consumers.
In meetings with the Senate Agricultural Committee and USDA Rural Development officials, Iowa electric co-op advocates talked about the importance of the Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDL&G) program and how these investments have improved the quality of life in rural communities.
Legislators were told how many electric co-ops promote the use of geothermal heat pumps for efficient heating and cooling. In 2015, Congress extended and provided a phase down of tax credits for wind and solar technologies but the tax credit for geothermal heat pumps was left out of the year-end package, despite being in the same section of the tax code. Iowa co-ops support extending and modifying tax incentives for geothermal energy sources so they are treated similarly to wind and solar technologies.
The advocacy fly-in was a valuable opportunity to connect with elected officials and share rural concerns. Rohach comments, “I believe the staff members of Iowa’s congressional delegation now have a better understanding of how legislation and regulations being discussed in Congress would affect the affordability and reliability of electricity in Iowa.”