Friday, March 15, 2013

Bill seeks to protect ratepayers

A bipartisan group of California lawmakers have teamed to back a bill in Congress that seeks to protect ratepayers in Redding, Shasta Lake and other cities served by public power entities.

The lawmakers include the north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa as well as two other Republicans and two Democrats.

From a LaMalfa news release:
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) today announced the introduction of H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act, which will protect public power ratepayers from cost increases by increasing the sources from which public power entities may purchase energy for future needs. The bill will eliminate red tape and limitations inadvertently imposed on public power entities by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in 2010. Northern California communities that could benefit from the bill include Redding, Biggs, Shasta Lake, Susanville, Roseville, Sacramento and others.

“The Public Power Risk Management Act will keep electrical rates from increasing by giving public power agencies greater flexibility to purchase power at lower costs. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill inadvertently limited the ability of public power entities to purchase energy from other producers and, if uncorrected, will lead to higher electrical rates,” said LaMalfa. “A financial reform bill aimed at Wall Street should never result in higher electrical costs. This is an issue that affects not only millions of Californians, but public power ratepayers across the nation.”

The bipartisan measure is cosponsored by Rep. Denham (R-CA), Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Rep. Costa (D-CA), and Rep. Garamendi (D-CA). Public power entities serve over 49 million customers across the nation, and the existing rules have drastically limited the ability of many smaller entities to purchase power for future needs.

The bill was widely supported by public power providers, who are already seeing the negative impacts of the Dodd-Frank requirements:

"Unfortunately, the application of these rules to municipal utilities has significantly increased our exposure to commercial risk by severely restricting the number and types of counterparties we can do business with," Northern California Power Agency General Manager James Pope said.

"Perhaps the burden on public power in New York State was not clearly understood when these regulations were enacted, but now that the negative effects are plain, we need Congress to act," added New York Municipal Power Agency General Manager Tony Modafferi.

"This legislation provides the necessary balance to ensure that the ratepayers continue to receive a stable and cost-effective fuel and energy supply," said Ronald Nichols, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

As an issue of national importance, LaMalfa’s bill will be discussed during a House Agricultural oversight hearing tomorrow, March 14, 2013, at 10:00 AM EST. The hearing may be streamed live at the following link: http://agriculture.house.gov/news/live-audiovideo

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