City Representatives Take Electric Issues to Capitol Hill
(Washington, D.C.)—Mayor Carrie Schlade and BMU representatives recently met with federal legislators in Washington, D.C. to discuss issues impacting local electric rates.
Mayor Schlade, Board of Public Affairs Member Karen Ford, and Operations Manager Dawn Fitzcharles traveled to Washington, D.C., February 24-26 as part of the annual American Public Power Association (APPA) Legislative Rally. City representatives received updates on legislative and regulatory issues affecting the electric utility industry and met with Congressman Bob Latta, Senator Rob Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown’s Office. Topics of discussion with these legislators included local financial impacts of federal sequestration on Build America Bonds (BABs) and the increasing cost of electric transmission.
American Municipal Power (AMP) issued $2.9 billion of BABs on behalf of the City of Bryan and 84 other AMP member communities to help finance the construction of a number of electric generating projects. These include the AMP Combined Hydro (Cannelton, Smithland and Willow Island) Project, Meldahl Hydroelectric Project and Prairie State Energy Campus.
In 2013 Congress reduced BABs interest rebates as part of the federal sequester. These sequestration impacts are projected to cost BMU electric consumers $869,828 from 2013-2029. City and AMP staff requested the legislators’ assistance in restoring BABs interest rebates to pre-sequestration levels.
In recent years, the City has experienced a significant increase in the cost of transmitting power to Bryan over the high-voltage transmission grid. Transmission costs represent approximately 27% of the power supply costs. City representatives asked federal lawmakers to support greater Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight of proposed transmission system improvements with a focus on system reliability and consumer financial impacts.
“The APPA Legislative Rally provides a great opportunity for local elected officials and staff to meet face-to-face with federal lawmakers on issues affecting local consumers,” said Operations Manager, Fitzcharles. “Transmission costs and BABs interest rebates alone negatively impact Bryan-area residents and businesses to the tune of millions of dollars. We need their assistance to address these issues that increase local electric bills.”
We have reached out to our congressional representative and to both United States Senators to discuss these issues impacting the City of Bryan. Because these costs are ultimately paid by customers, we encourage our residential and business customers to also weigh in with their elected officials at the federal level and request that they direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require additional checks and balances on the supplemental transmission planning process. It’s in all of our best interest to enhance the level of scrutiny over supplemental transmission projects to ensure they are prudent, cost-effective and future-focused.
We fully believe that transmission is a vital component of ensuring reliable service for our City’s electricity consumers. Unfortunately, our biggest increase in power costs in recent years has been for the provision of transmission service. Furthermore, there is a varying degree of state oversight of supplemental projects with little to no siting or other requirements for most supplemental projects in the PJM footprint. As a result, they do not receive the same level of scrutiny as baseline transmission projects.
Representatives from AMP member communities in Ohio, Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia attended the APPA Rally, joining other local elected officials and staff members from public power communities across the nation.