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Reese and Jaeckels Attend Federal Legislative Rally

Mayor Reese and GM Jaeckels converse with other attendees prior to meeting with the senators.

New Holstein Mayor Dianne Reese and NHU General Manager Randy Jaeckels attended the American Public Power Association (APPA) federal legislative rally in Washington D.C. from March 7-9. Along with over fifty other representatives from throughout Wisconsin, they met with Wisconsin's congressional delegates to discuss issues and potential legislation that could impact the electric municipal utility industry.

Reese and Jaeckels, along with twelve other representatives from Representative Reid Ribble's congressional district, met with Ribble's staff to discuss three critical issues. These issues included: (1) changes to tax-exempt municipal financing, (2) federal involvement in customer-owned generation and (3) electric reliability concerns with the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

The most important issue discussed involved potential changes to tax-exempt municipal financing. President Obama and some federal legislators are looking to make changes to the nation's tax structure and are reviewing changes to tax-exempt municipal financing which would critically impact the cost of completing municipal infrastructure projects such as upgrading electric and water infrastructure, municipal streets and other building projects. Tax-exempt financing has assisted communities throughout the United States have been utilizing this tool for almost 100 years to keep projects affordable for taxpayers and utility ratepayers. In 2014, NHU refinanced a bond issue for its Ford Drive substation and saved over $264,000 by refinancing. If the tax-exempt status had been different, the savings from the refinancing would have been much lower. These savings directly impact the rate payers.

With regards to customer-owned generation, we communicated to the legislative staff that we encourage the use of renewable energy. However, we promoted the importance of local and state control and monitoring for safety and reliability concerns. There are concerns that federalizing grid interconnection of customer-owned generation could cause issues for safety, reliability and equitable allocation of costs.

And finally, with the EPA's Clean Power Plan on hold from a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the biggest concern is the timing and reliability issue if the court's "stay" of the plan implementation is removed. Keeping the current timeline in the plan would make it difficult for utilities to comply.

The whole Wisconsin contingent also met with Wisconsin Senators Johnson (bottom left photo) and Tammy Baldwin (bottom right photo), as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan's (Wisconsin) Assistant on Energy and Environmental Policy, Maryam Brown (bottom middle photo), to discuss the same issues. Specific emphasis was placed on the tax-exempt municipal financing issue with all three individuals.

WPPI Energy, NHU's wholesale energy supplier, assisted with funding support for Reese and Jaeckels to attend the legislative rally. Questions regarding the rally can be directed to Jaeckels at 898-5776.