From Feb 27–Mar 1, hundreds of public power advocates will gather in Washington, D.C. for the American Public Power Association's 2017 Legislative Rally. We're pleased to welcome them — they have an important agenda to cover as they visit with their elected officials.
With new leadership in the White House, we expect a busy year with the new Administration and Congress on a host of issues important to public power.
The Senate began the year with nomination hearings for President Donald Trump's cabinet picks, including those for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. It will also vet nominations for important political appointments, including commissioners for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Federal Communications Commission.
The House of Representatives has already had a flurry of activity focused on regulatory reform legislation and passing a budget resolution that lays the procedural groundwork for repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The House is also expected to start work in earnest on tax reform legislation, with the Senate following suit.
President Trump has expressed a strong interest in infrastructure development. Other issues we expect will be addressed in the new Congress include grid security, environmental policy, Endangered Species Act reform, and energy policy — including examination of Federal Power Act-related matters, such as wholesale electricity markets and the blurring of federal-state jurisdictional lines.
Congress may also consider energy infrastructure (e.g., pipeline permitting reform, grid modernization, etc.), distributed generation, and reform of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.
So what are the Association's top legislative priorities? You can see the issues at a glance in this infographic.
The preservation of tax-exempt financing is our top legislative priority in 2017. We will actively engage on tax reform legislation, working to preserve the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, which are key for public power infrastructure development.
Right now, House Municipal Finance Caucus leaders Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) are circulating for signature a letter in support of municipal bonds. We urge public power utilities to ask your Representatives to join in signing the letter. You can do this online, whether or not you are coming to the Rally.
We will also work to protect against a "one-size fits all" approach to distributed generation. There continues to be interest on the Hill to promote distributed generation through the imposition of federal directives.
Engaging in partnerships for a secure grid is a priority. There is strong interest in grid security matters and we anticipate oversight activities on cyber and physical security. The Association will continue to tout the benefits of information sharing and liability protection and the successful relationship between the electric industry and the government to protect the grid.
Preparing for changing environmental regulations is another Association priority. We expect action on ozone legislation in Congress and discussions about possible updates to the Clean Air Act. The Hill will also be focused on what the Trump Administration does on the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the U.S. Rule, and ozone rule.
We will continue to defend the core mission and cost-based rates of the federal Power Marketing Administrations and Tennessee Valley Authority. The Association will also continue its focus on problems in wholesale electricity markets.
Finally, we continue to advocate on other issues important to public power, such as CFTC regulations, pole attachments, drones, and rail shipper issues.
If you want to brush up on the details, you can review the issue briefs on the important policy issues that are likely to be addressed in 2017.
Attendees at the Legislative Rally will visit with as many Members of Congress and their staff as possible when they are in town.
We have a positive message to share with Members of Congress. Adherence to traditional public power values like local control, self-reliance, and customer focus has consistently enabled us to provide power reliably and at reasonable cost while protecting the environment. We look forward to sharing public power's positive messages on Capitol Hill and executive branch agencies en masse in the next few days.
We thank all those who are coming to the Rally. And those who could not join us this time, but are working hard to home to reinforce these messages. Keep up the good work!"