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APPA’s Joy Ditto Voices Concerns About Potential Railroad Strike in Letter to President Biden

In a Nov. 18 letter to President Biden, Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association (APPA), voiced concerns about the potential for a strike by railroad workers, saying that a work stoppage would “seriously threaten” the reliability of electric grids in public power communities.

“I write to add the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) voice to the chorus of great concern being expressed regarding the ongoing railroad labor negotiations and the potential for a strike,” wrote Ditto.

“Public power utilities rely on railroads to receive fuel, chemicals, and other equipment necessary to provide their communities with essential electric service. A work stoppage would seriously threaten the reliability of the electric grids in their communities, as well as further pressure already strained supply chains and increase prices at a time of already high inflation,” she said.

For months, APPA has been calling attention to the enormous challenges our members are facing in procuring basic equipment to provide electric service and to restore service following storms and natural disasters.

“Distribution transformers pose a particularly acute problem; our members are now facing lead times of more than a year for delivery and, in many cases, are being limited in the number they are allowed to purchase,” wrote Ditto.

Transformers are also necessary to extend electric service to new homes, businesses, and communities, she noted. “Prices have also gone up precipitously. As not-for-profit electric utilities, increased equipment costs are shouldered directly by our customers. A rail work stoppage on top of these already formidable supply chain challenges would be calamitous.”

Ditto said APPA appreciates the hard work the Biden Administration put into averting a strike in September “and we urge all parties to redouble efforts to avoid a strike now.”