AARP Statement on today's HF561 Senate Subcommiittee Hearing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black, AARP   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 16:27

Des Moines, January 26, 2012 -- AARP today urged the Iowa Senate Commerce subcommiteee chaired by Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) to listen to and act on behalf of the interests of Iowa ratepayers rather than the powerful utility company lobby as  they consider changing Iowa law to allow advance ratemaking for new nuclear power as proposed in HF 561.

 

The question for AARP is not whether or not Iowa should consider building a nuclear power plant, the question is whether we should change the way Iowa builds and pays for multi-billion dollar utility projects and who bears the cancellation risk for these ventures.

 

There has been a lot of discussion about this amendment and how it supposedly protects consumers.  It needs to be stated clearly and publicly that neither AARP nor any other opposing consumer or business group concerned about this legislation has had part in crafting this amendment.  If this is bill passes, then Iowa ratepayers are in serious trouble.

 

A recent Iowa Utilities Board staff memo analysis of amended HF 561 confirms AARP’s concerns that this version not only fails to protect consumer interests, the proposed changes it makes to Iowa law would actually create incentives for utilities to behave in a manner contrary to the public interest.

For example, the IUB staff memo says that HF 561 “would shift nearly all of the construction, licensing and permitting risk associated with one or more nuclear plants from the company to its customers.”  The legislation does this by pre-approving spending and guaranteeing utilities can recover pre-approved prudent costs, “including a profit on capital investments.” (Page 3, section 3)

 

AARP is concerned about keeping utility rates affordable and accessible, especially for for aging Iowans on fixed incomes.  November 2011 data shows that despite the fact that Iowa had a relatively mild winter, near record numbers of Iowans were still behind on their utility bills.

 

AARP opposes the language of the HF 561, which the IUB staff memo confirms significantly shifts risks from utility companies and their shareholders to ratepayers.  We’ve heard the comment, “what’s a dollar or two dollars more a month to meet Iowa’s future demands.”

 

First, no one knows if the cost will be a dollar or two more or $20 or more a month.  Plus, Iowa’s future demands haven’t been defined for the legislature yet.  A report from the $15 million-taxpayer-funded project approved two years ago for MidAmerican to study Iowa’s energy needs hasn’t been released yet.  These are the unknowns.  Legislators need to consider what we know about this issue.

 

  • Iowans, especially those on fixed incomes are already struggling with already utility costs;
  • Iowans care about this issue – more than 1,000 have called the Iowa Senate since the opening of the session to oppose this legislation;
  • A majority of Iowans 50 and over – 72 percent according to a spring 2011 AARP poll by Selzer & Co. - are opposed to this legislation;
  • And, nearly 6 in 10 of those surveyed indicated they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for state office who supports this legislation.

HF561 is a game changer and an expensive raw deal for ratepayers.  We urge you to stand with Iowa ratepayers and oppose this bad deal for all consumers – residential, commercial and industrial.

 

--Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy

 

 

 

 

Ann Black

AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Communications

600 E. Court Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50309

515-697-1003/515-707-1287 (cell)

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