In a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the possibility of new directives for the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) increasing electricity costs, several witnesses were asked to testify and provide the electric cooperative perspective.
Joel Bladow, Senior Vice President, Transmission, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on the effects of Sec. Chu's Memo and the lack of transparency in the process that has followed. The memo, delivered to PMA administrators on March 16, mapped out new missions for the PMAs, which could result in increased electricity rates for electric cooperative member-owners. Mr. Bladow informed the Committee that the activities in the Chu Memo may interfere with the PMAs' core responsibility of providing affordable electricity. He argued that instead of continuing on its current, predetermined path, DOE should revisit its proposal entirely and instead work with customers to identify and solve problems.
Scott Corwin, Executive Director, Public Power Council, informed the Committee that any new initiatives by the PMAs need to be consistent with the statutes and the PMAs' regional nature. The PMAs are supported by their customers, not taxpayer dollars. The relationship between each PMA and their regional customers has grown through the budget and rate setting process and with each policy that the PMA pursues, giving each region a sense ownership and stewardship of their PMA. Mr. Corwin warned the Committee that, "directives from outside the region rarely work as well as solutions crafted by regional parties with knowledge of the unique nature of each power system."
Ed Anderson, General Manager, South Dakota Rural Electric Association, submitted testimony to the Committee, stating that electric cooperatives are already undertaking many of Sec. Chu's proposals, including energy efficiency programs, demand response programs, and the integration of renewable resources, and efforts by the PMAs in these areas would only duplicate existing, successful programs.