Power Lines Blog

Tax reform: let’s keep up the fight for municipal bonds

Municipal Bonds

As the Administration pivots to tax reform, we are on high alert about maintaining the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. Bonds are the primary tool our public power utility members use to finance new infrastructure. Eliminating or undercutting the tax-exempt status of these bonds would increase our borrowing costs, and that will be reflected in electric rates. In effect, it is a regressive tax. Public power has the ability to bring local policymakers to the Hill to personally lobby on this issue. We need to be able to do that, and on short notice.

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Golden rule applies to public servants

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It has now become necessary to remind the public that FERC commissioners, state public utility commissioners and local governing bodies that regulate utilities have demanding jobs and deserve our respect. To contribute constructively to the processes of these regulatory bodies, individuals need to follow a few simple rules. Focus on the issues rather than the person(s); engage in a serious and thoughtful exchange of views via the appropriate forums; and avoid physical, verbal or emotional violence. Demonizing or implicitly threatening a public servant should have no place in public discourse.

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Legislative Rally and public power priorities

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The preservation of tax-exempt financing is the Association’s top legislative priority in 2017. We will actively engage on tax reform legislation, working to preserve the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, which are key for public power infrastructure development. We will emphasize this and other priorities as our members visit elected officials during our 2017 Legislative Rally.

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Living the Wright Life in the Sonoran Desert

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It can be easy for CEOs to get so caught up in the day-to-day management issues that you forget the big issues or why you really do what you do. Having the chance to step back and see the larger picture — or even to see how a really creative mind can tackle design issues created by an austere desert environment — can recharge the brain and give you a fresh perspective.

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Sliding home into the holiday season

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We have over 1,400 utility members, but each and every one is important to us, and we want to go into 2017 strong and unified. Tax reform promises to be high on the Congressional agenda come January, with the inevitable calls to repeal or weaken the tax-exempt status of bonds. I took this message on the road recently, speaking to the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities and the Public Power Council in Portland. Thank you so much to all of public power for putting your trust in us through your membership. Enjoy the best this season has to give.

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Downton Abbey Energy Edition: Season Two

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The second installment of QER is focused specifically on the electricity sector, from generation to end use. I participated on a panel at the Feb. 4 meeting that addressed how the country can plan, build, maintain, and operate the appropriate amount of bulk power generation and transmission for future needs. I told my fellow panelists and audience members that I felt like I had been asked to appear in the opening episode of Season Two of the PBS hit series, Downton Abbey — “Energy Edition.” And I was only half-joking.

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Legislative trail to a bright energy future

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APPA commends @lisamurkowski on putting together the first comprehensive energy package since 2005. APPA is ready to work with @SenateEnergy to improve Americans’ access to affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric power. Sue Kelly testifies on hydropower licensing, mandatory capacity markets, and a federal renewable energy standard.

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America’s first 21st century nuclear generation

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Nuclear power is a complex undertaking, and an important one. If we are truly serious about reducing the carbon footprint of our industry, it needs to be part of our power supply strategy. And TVA, under CEO Bill Johnson’s leadership, is working hard to diversify the power supply of the Tennessee Valley and reduce its environmental impact, while keeping costs reasonable for customers in the Valley. That is no small task, but the TVA employees I met are going “all in” to make it happen.

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Funding public power through municipal bonds

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Municipal bonds work for public power utilities and their customers. Federal policy makers should recall these facts when proposing to alter the tax treatment of municipal bonds. If public power systems are going to make the needed infrastructure investments to incorporate new technologies, keep our facilities safe and secure, and deal with new environmental regulations, we need to have continued, unfettered access to tax-exempt bonds.

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