Community Engagement

Election Results Don’t Change Public Power’s Advocacy

An oft-repeated phrase is “elections have consequences.” As of this writing, the day after our midterm elections, with both the House and Senate still undecided, my position is: “Whatever the outcome of this election, public power remains well-positioned to advocate for our priorities.”

APPA has now been around for 82 years — we have seen much as an organization during our lifetime. We have seen the ascendancy of both Republicans and Democrats — sometimes expected, sometimes not. We have seen endless partisanship, but also bipartisan work, often on energy bills or in support of the federal power marketing administrations and Tennessee Valley Authority.

Given these dynamics, APPA has long been staunchly bipartisan in our approach. Note that I don’t say “nonpartisan,” because having a perspective in support of public power is, technically, partisan — or “prejudiced in favor of a particular cause,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. Our support of public power causes means that we work with members of Congress and their staff, as well as whoever is in charge at the White House and the agencies, on a bipartisan basis. Specifically, we find and work with champions on both sides of the aisle, in congressional leadership, and also on committees relevant to the issues of importance to us, such as the energy, environment, and tax-writing committees.

Regardless of which party is in control in the 118th Congress, public power representatives have existing relationships with key members of Congress to help us advance our issues. Those relationships are multi-faceted. One such relationship could stem from one of our member’s governing boards, for example. A mayor of a public power utility may have a lifelong relationship with a U.S. senator, while APPA’s government relations staff might have developed strong relationships with that senator’s committee staff and, in turn, I might know the senator, as well as former staff and supporters of the senator, via my 30 years in Washington. We maintain these relationships by ensuring that we keep in touch, provide support, and are honest brokers. We also don’t expect our supporters to champion our every cause, but we at least have a dialogue when we must part ways on a given issue.

As we seek to marshal strong congressional interest in current priorities, like helping us solve the increasingly dire lack of distribution transformer supply and ensuring that the federal government honors the commitments it made to issuers of Build America Bonds, we will reach out to our existing supporters and look to empower newly elected members of Congress to help as well. We will also educate and push our supporters on enabling robust permitting and siting reform without unnecessary expansion of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority. As natural gas prices remain high, we will revisit our efforts to support reasonable restraints on price spikes and to minimize market manipulation, thereby avoiding in the future what our members experienced during Winter Storm Uri in early 2021. We will work with our champions to ensure that the new direct pay refundable credit for public power utilities’ deployment of cleaner energy technologies is implemented in a clear and streamlined way by the Treasury Department and IRS.

We look forward to continuing our important work with these key members of Congress and their staff, whether they are in the “majority” or “minority,” depending on the pending vote counts. Thank you for all you have done or will do for public power.

APPA remains well-positioned to communicate and advance our legislative priorities no matter the makeup of Congress.