Inhofe, Donnelly Reintroduce Bill to Provide Permanent Regulatory Relief to Public Utilities

Bipartisan legislation would keep energy affordable for families, businesses

Washington, D.C.— Today U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) reintroduced S. 1111, the Public Power Risk Management Act, bipartisan legislation that would clarify provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in order to provide permanent relief to public power utilities and keep energy affordable for Americans.

“Many Oklahomans rely on public power, and in recent years, the risk has increased for prices to become unstable and unpredictable,” Inhofe said. “This is an unnecessary consequence of the Dodd-Frank Act, which has prevented public power companies from full access to swap markets, a key method for power companies to reduce volatility in energy prices. I am proud to join Sen. Joe Donnelly in introducing legislation that will ensure public and private power utilities are treated fairly and equally, and in turn will help Oklahoma’s public utilities keep rates affordable and predictable for its customers.”

“Hoosier families and businesses deserve reliable, affordable energy prices,” Donnelly said. “We should pursue every commonsense solution to make federal regulations work better for American companies and their workers. The Public Power Risk Management Act would do just that. It would ensure a level playing field between public and private power utilities and provide a permanent legislative fix to a problem impacting public power utilities and consumers. I am proud to join my colleague Sen. Inhofe in reintroducing bipartisan legislation that would provide regulatory relief to public power utilities.”

The Public Power Risk Management Act refines the language outlined in the Dodd-Frank Act pertaining to public power utilities,” David Osburn, General Manager, Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority said. “Sen. Inhofe’s bill would continue to allow OMPA, and all other public power utilities, equivalent access to the swap markets. This access is vital for OMPA to ensure affordable power to our municipal member systems. We thank Sen. Inhofe for taking a stand to support public power in Oklahoma and across the entire United States.”  

The Public Power Risk Management Act will allow the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) and other public power entities to hedge our risks on an even playing field with others in the energy sector,” Dan Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, Grand River Dam Authority said. “This will help keep costs lower—and rates stable—for our customers. Pushing for enactment sends the clear message that the CFTC is headed in the right direction, and guarantees it won’t reverse course. GRDA is deeply grateful for Sen. Inhofe’s leadership on this issue.”

Last year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) announced that it approved a final rule to provide relief to public power utilities in Oklahoma and across the country in order to keep energy affordable for American families. This action was in line with Inhofe and Donnelly’s Public Power Risk Management Act, first introduced in 2013. Inhofe and Donnelly are reintroducing this bill because it would provide a permanent legislative fix to the problem by clarifying provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This would level the playing field between public and private power utilities, once and for all.

The Public Power Risk Management Act would require that public and private power utilities be treated the same by not requiring the entities they swap with to register as a “swap-dealer” until the swap amount exceeds a CFTC established threshold during the year. The CFTC’s action announced in September 2014 accomplishes that; however the legislation would help ensure that this regulatory relief is not revisited in the future and eliminate any ambiguities. Therefore, passage of the Public Power Risk Management Act is still needed to make the changes permanent.

Inhofe and Donnelly’s bill is similar to the legislation they originally introduced on December 11, 2013.

Congressmen Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) have introduced identical legislation to S. 1111 in the House today.

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