More than 500 officials representing rural electric cooperatives in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin are meeting in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to talk about issues and their congressional priorities. Kent Pauling is the general manager for Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, based in LeMars, Iowa, and says a key portion of their supply is hydroelectric power from WAPA, the Western Area Power Administration. Pauling says the cooperative gets about a third of its power from WAPA and any change in its rate will affect all the distribution co-ops that own NIPCO. Key to that hydro-power is the level of water in the Missouri River, shrunk by years of drought, and there’s a dispute right now over a move by Montana to cut releases from upriver dams, which states like Iowa say would cut their power generation. Pauling says they’re also talking about the energy bill in Congress, and don’t know how it may affect them in the long run. Things are fluid, and once it gets to the floor for debate there’s no way to know what will happen. Pauling says the coops don’t want their rates affected by the energy bill. People attending the meeting represent 85 cooperatives supplying more than one-point-six Million customers.
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