Members of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives have an eye on Washington for a couple of key issues they say could make a big difference to customers. Association executive director Brian Kading says tax credits for renewable energy generation are one focus. He say those credits have expired and there’s a provision in the new energy bill that would bring them back for people owning renewable power projects. He says they’re lobbying hard to get the issue passed and have the credits retroactive to 2004. Kading says the credits are important in allowing co-ops to compete. He says the electric cooperatives are very interested in the tradable tax credits so that they can also participate in the renewable energy market. He says it’s difficult for cooperatives to compete because there’s no comparability between energy generators. Kading says another top issue for co-ops is getting a work hours exemption for utility crews. He says under current law crews can only drive their trucks for a certain number of hours before they have to shut them down. He says without a fix, it makes it hard for utilities to put a system back together after a big storm. Kading says Florida is a good example, and he says ice storms in Iowa are another example. Kading says if a big storm hits Iowa, they often call crews to drive in from other states to help out until the job is done.He says without the hours of service exemption, it makes it difficult to put the lines back up as quickly as possible. Kading says there’s a permanent fix for the problem in the transportation bill that faces a potential veto, and a temporary fix in the appropriations bill. Kading says about 10-percent or around 180-thousand Iowans get their electric service from co-ops.
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