Dispatches from the Front

by Stephen D. Haner     

I promised you updates, dispatches from the front lines as the General Assembly once again deals with legislation proposed by our largest monopoly power company. It is my intention this game is played out in the open. Here is my version of Bacon Bits:

(1) President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans are about to cut your electric bill and Dominion want to take credit. You will search in vain for Trump’s name in the talking points or news releases. You hear about $1 billion in savings to consumers and an actual cut in the rates – it’s the mostly the federal corporate tax cut, which an early State Corporation Commission estimate put at $165 million annually. Dominion can give it back in advance because we pay the taxes in advance and the cash goes in a fund for taxes.

It is true that because of the 2015 legislation creating a regulation holiday the SCC lacked the power to order Dominion to pass along the tax savings to customers. But all around the country other utilities are doing just that, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is working on making it mandatory.  Also Dominion had already announced a similar rate cut down in South Carolina if it takes over SCANA, and with the same genesis – the federal tax cut.  This was coming without any legislation. It is not a concession on their part.

( 2) Where are the bills? As of my drafting this on Sunday morning, only the main House bill has been introduced and posted on the legislative database. Senators Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, and Steve Newman, R-Forest, have all said they put in bills at the Friday deadline, but none of them are posted. Dominion has seen the bills, has been talking to legislators about the bills, has talking points in circulation about the bills –but those of who wish to dispute them are hampered by not seeing the actual text. It might be the same as the House bill, it might not.

Apparently in this hyper-computerized age the Senate bills were introduced on paper and need to be keyed in. The way it was done 20 years ago (but is still allowed.) Why? I submit to give them yet another huge head start in the rapid race that is Virginia’s legislature. It is possible the Senate bills could be in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday afternoon, and the public and the skeptics have not seen them. Dominion has a platoon of lobbyists and skids greased with money, but they leave no advantage untaken.

(3) Dominion tends to fill its basket with eggs – multiple bills from multiple friendly sponsors, with elements of their ultimate bill sprinkled about. Bills are put in mainly as placeholders, as potential vehicles for a substitute or for amendments. Senator Glen Sturtevant, R-Midlothian, has a bill dealing making it harder for the SCC to challenge the cost of underground lines, for example, and Senator Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon, has a bill dealing with how the SCC views capital structure when it sets rates. Notice that they also set out long, long sections of the Code provisions involved in every other aspect of this – these are vehicles, little legislative Uber cars waiting just in case one of the main bills breaks down.

Stephen D. Haner, principal of Black Walnut Strategies, is a Richmond-based lobbyist. In the debate over energy policy, he represents the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

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24 responses to “Dispatches from the Front

  1. Happy to see Mr. Haner opining here but have to disagree about the “tax cut” which was funded by borrowing money which adds to the deficit /debt and those folks with “refunds” will be on the hook for not only the debt but interest on it.

    Also.. found this opinion piece by someone with the same name as Mr. Haner in TMT’s favorite newspaper…

    Virginia officials are letting electric companies rip off customers

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/virginia-officials-are-letting-electric-companies-rip-off-customers/2018/01/19/33b8a4f8-fad3-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.793b7192f352

    Finally .. spending a “rebate” even if it comes from debt on something other than the coal ash cleanup is even more irresponsible.

    I used to think the GOP was the fiscally conservative guys but now days – they’re WORSE than the Dems when it comes to fiscal behavior.. both in Congress AND the VA GA..

    Any excess “profit” no matter how Dominion got it – belongs to the coal ash cleanup… it’s downright dumb to give ratepayers a “refund” then later turn around and increase their rates again to pay for the coal ash.

    This is the perfect time to take care of the coal ash issue and some would say since it came from a deficit-financed tax cut – even the more ironic.

  2. Federal income tax is a recognized cost for determining regulated utility rates. It is passed along to ratepayers in their monthly rates. If the tax rates or regulations change, the financial impact of the changes need to be factored into the cost of service and, if the cost goes down, the amounts removed from rates and, if appropriate, refunded to consumers. If another legitimate cost of service expense is increasing, such that a rate increase would be necessary, it could be quite sensible as Larry suggests to offset all or some of it with the FIT rate decrease and/or refund. If, on the other hand, it could be proven Dominion was not prudent in handling coal ash (other utilities handled it differently and more effectively and efficiently in the long run), Dominion’s shareowners should eat the costs going forward.

    Turning to the tax cut itself, reducing the corporate tax rate to a more competitive level worldwide is having positive effects on the American economy. Even the Post reported that Apple, for example, is paying $38 billion in a repatriation tax, hiring 20,000 more employees and spending an additional $350 billion. None of that happened during the Obama administration. None of that would have happened had Congress listed to the editorials of the Post. Instead, we got stuck with a pathetic 1.6% growth in the economy during the last year (2016) of the Obama administration.

    Besides accepting Bill Clinton’s sexual abuse and Hillary Clinton’s vicious attacks on the accusers, and preferring illegal immigrants to native born and naturalized Americans, most Democrats would rather have higher taxes than see ordinary people get hired, get promoted and take home more pay. My maternal grandfather, lifetime Union member and leader and Democrat would be rolling in his grave to see his party prefer government over prosperity for private sector workers.

  3. Larry, I am still absorbing the bill(s) and waiting on a lawyer for detailed analysis, but nothing I’ve seen so far requires the utility to spend any of the excess profits from 2015, 2016, or 2017 on any purpose whatsoever. Not coal ash, not anything. They are keeping it. Ka Ching.

    The SCC looked at one of those three years, 2016, and estimated Dominion was earning profits about $400 million above its authorized rate of return. It assumed everything Dominion told it was legitimate, and still said there should have been refunds of $133-175 million. To find the real numbers over three years we need a rate case – which this bill does not provide.

    In years starting with 2018, yes, coal ash goes into the mix. But I agree with TMT that those costs should not fall entirely on the ratepayers, and as written that is what seems to happen. But discussions of coal ash (or energy efficiency or mandatory solar) are all side shows to my main point – we’ve been overcharged, the SCC should determine how much and give us back our share.

    • If you need evidence of this being nothing more than business as usual in the Richmond swamp, look no further than Shaun Kenney’s immediate defense:

      “To wit, Republicans and Democrats unveiled the Grid Transformation & Security Act — a bill designed to roll back the 2015 effort to comply with the draconian demands of the Obama-era Paris Climate Agreement. Dominion Energy has literally reshuffled the deck, and the results should be sung from the mountaintops. Coal fired plants are being put on “cold reserve” while massive investments are being made in clean energy and natural gas infrastructure. Meanwhile, Virginians can be expected to see an average 6% energy bill drop across the board — literally a night out with the family thanks to Dominion’s willingness to innovate. ”

      If you read Kilgore’s bill and presumably the Wagner/Saslaw bill you will find that it is chock full of benefits to Dominion in the form of refund reduction, reduced oversight and a future rate-setting scheme that works to Dominion’s benefit.

      It is a pig of an omnibus bill that sweeps up many other legislator’s bills that will likely be rolled into the omnibus package. Del. Hugo’s HB1202 is a perfect example of Kilgore cutting and pasting the entirety of a bill’s language into his bill, effectively forcing many legislators to swallow a bitter Dominion rate pill in order to achieve their goals.

      Of course they have little choice but to swallow that pill as the passage of the Kilgore/Wagner/Saslaw bills are pre-ordained and any squawking could result in those “beneficial” passages being sliced and diced in Committee or on the floor, although that may happen anyway.

  4. re: ” If, on the other hand, it could be proven Dominion was not prudent in handling coal ash (other utilities handled it differently and more effectively and efficiently in the long run), Dominion’s shareowners should eat the costs going forward'”

    IF Dominion was doing what the industry did with coal ash and there were no other laws or regulations stipulating something other.. then Dominion and it’s investors should be held harmless and it’s a legitimate cost to ratepayers just as Nuclear waste disposal is….

    So we agree.

    On the Corporate tax – iI support lowering it to a competitive statutory level but the whole story is not being told because most corporates did not pay that rate… GE, for example, paid no taxes… But in general.. taxes on corporations just get passed on to customers like any other cost of business and the bigger problem is disparate tax treatment among the corporates so that the govt actually is picking winners and losers.

    On the other hand -you won’t get prosperity from cutting taxes on corporates… that money almost never goes to workers – who would actually spend it and boost aggregate spending.. it goes to investors who then take that money wherever they can to make more money on it without paying taxes on it. It does not come back into the economy; a lot of it goes overseas to be invested like the folks that invest in Apple who have their products built in China…

    STILL I’m IN FAVOR of competitive corporate taxes and doing other things that will bring corporate investment back into this country – but for real not PR stunts… like Carrier did… way too much demagoguery.. and yes it does work.

    There were a LOT of Corporate loopholes to begin with – read this:

    https://www.ctj.org/the-sorry-state-of-corporate-taxes/

    and this:

    Meet the 18 profitable companies that paid no taxes over 8 years
    https://www.ctj.org/the-sorry-state-of-corporate-taxes/

    Pepco Holdings
    PG&E Corp.
    Wisconsin Energy
    NiSource
    International Paper
    FirstEnergy
    Priceline.com
    Amos Energy
    General Electric
    American Electric Power
    Ryder System
    Duke Energy
    NextEra Energy
    Xcel Energy
    Ameren
    CMS Energy
    Sempra Energy
    Eversource Energy

    on the Clintons.. give it a rest TMT.. you’re totally a partisan.. guy….

    The Clintons are not the greatest thing since sliced bread.. never were.. but then again they’re not what you say… either..

    You’re just as hard over on Kaine, Warner, McAuliffe, etc, right?

    admit it guy…

    • Not sure I follow your point about Dominion doing what other utilities did and not breaking any law or regulation.

      Didn’t the cigarette companies do what other cigarette companies did without breaking any laws? Dominion piled thousands of tons of toxic coal ash in unlined pits next to rivers. Now, it will cost vastly more to clean up the mess than it would have cost to properly dispose of the coal ash as it was created. The additional costs of the one time clean up over what it would have cost to do it right all Ali g should be bourne by the shareholders. They got to vote on the board members who tolerated the obvious and known stupidity of piling up toxins for decades next to rivers.

      • The cigarette companies did internal research that proved conclusively that it was harmful – and ignored it.

        same deal with the asbestos companies and in both cases victims could prove actual harm – in civil court.

        IF.. other utility companies had – as a matter of course , put their coal ash in lined and capped pits away from flood planes and Dominion did not – then they would be culpable.

        But I could be argued to nick the investors a bit on it also..

        Keep in mind in the bigger picture also – that the stuff that still went up their smokestacks harmed far more people than the coal ash has.. and that WAS legal because they were following the regs.. the regs they lobbied to weaken sure enough .. but thousands, millions of people have been harmed by what comes out of the smokestacks and THAT is THE REASON they closed the plants down in NoVa and moved the generation to rural plants.

        • You don’t think that Dominion new that the toxic metals in the coal ash was a danger sitting in unlined, uncovered pits next to major river systems and burrowed into the water table that supplies local drinking water?

          They knew they were creating a giant future problem. They just didn’t care. Luckily for us, there were no major disasters with Dominion’s coal ash. Other areas of the country weren’t so fortunate.

          While the smoke from burning the coal did hurt people I am not sure what they could have done about that other than build nukes – which they did. In contrast, they could have disposed of the coal ash in an appropriate way as the ash was created. By willfully ignoring the obvious problem Dominion created a situation where the ultimate fix will be much more expensive than the simple and straightforward dea of dealing with the coal ash as it was created. The difference in costs belongs with the shareholders not the ratepayers.

          • And therein lies the insidious part of the bill, transferring the costs from the shareholders to the ratepayers in exchange for a few beads and baubles. That’s how we bought Manhattan wasn’t it?

    • Larry – you are the rabid partisan, running away from the facts about the Clintons. I don’t especially care for Kaine & Warner because of their positions on issues and Kaine showed his true colors by joining the Clinton ticket. McAuliffe, all and all, did a pretty decent job as Governor.

      Just say it out loud or write it down – Bill Clinton is a sex abuser and Hillary Clinton was his chief enabler. And it seems very clear to me that many people who voted for both Bill and Hillary simply cannot admit to themselves they voted for a sex abuser and his enabler even though they would not tolerate such conduct by any other candidates – be they Democrats or Republicans.

  5. re: ” The cigarette companies did internal research that proved conclusively that it was harmful – and ignored it.”

    Actually they purposely hid it AND they went after academic scientists and accused them of bad science …lying, etc.. the original attacks on science.

    ” Confronted by compelling peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the harms of smoking, the tobacco industry, beginning in the 1950s, used sophisticated public relations approaches to undermine and distort the emerging science.

    The industry campaign worked to create a scientific controversy through a program that depended on the creation of industry–academic conflicts of interest. This strategy of producing scientific uncertainty undercut public health efforts and regulatory interventions designed to reduce the harms of smoking.

    A number of industries have subsequently followed this approach to disrupting normative science. Claims of scientific uncertainty and lack of proof also lead to the assertion of individual responsibility for industrially produced health risks.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3490543/

    If Dominion is guilty of that kind of behavior on the coal ash – throw the book at them.

    • So you don’t think Dominion knew arsenic was dangerous? Arsenic and Old Lace came out in 1944.

      Dominion knew they were creating a huge problem for decades.

      This is the equivalent of a superfund site.

      I am not advocating that Dominion be fined for their sloth and stupidity. By pure luck their dereliction of duty in just piling up toxins in an unsafe way never caused a catastrophe. However, the total costs of a one time clean-up are higher than the cumulative costs of continuous clean ups would have been. The difference ought to be taken out of profits not built into the rate base.

  6. I suspect that, just like hiring Steve to lobby the GA, interest groups or individuals could file a complaint with the VSCC. alleging Dominion’s management mishandled the coal ash issue and requesting an order directing the shareowners to pay most, if not all, of the remedial actions now necessary to handle the ash properly. Interested people cannot expect others to carry their water.

  7. Since the Clintons have spilled over to today’s discussion, let me recall that TMT closed yesterday with, “The bottom line is that many Democrats, including Tim Kaine, are more than willing to give the Clintons a pass on sexual abuse claims and even attacking the women making the charges even when they give no one else similar quarter.”

    We seem to be widely agreed that Trump is disagreeable and his behavior is counterproductive and probably amoral, but, depending upon one’s perspective, he is accomplishing some things that need doing including shaking up the “elites” and promoting a conventional, if extreme, Republican agenda. But I am struck by the fact that the morality of his actions concerning numerous women, or, for example the Central Park Five, is suddenly so far in the past as to be ignored, yet seems to be on people’s minds when they talk about what Bill Clinton did over 20 years ago, or even Al Franken 40 years ago, or Roy Moore longer ago than that, or Garrison Keillor or Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose or Roger Ailes . . . heck, Winston Churchill walked around indecently in front of the typist in his office if “The Darkest Hour” has it right.

    No, this isn’t to excuse any of it; but either the past is the past, or it’s not, for EVERYONE similarly situated. Personally I think times have changed substantially in the past 20 years. Clinton’s impeachment probably hastened that day, but we weren’t ready then as a nation to throw him out for his transgressions. Today we might be. Roy Moore lost; but then there’s the obvious pass we are giving to Trump. If anything the outrage factor ought to be far greater with Trump given the hush money he paid — but it’s not likely to come to a head; he has numbed us to his amoral behavior.

    How much of the swamp taints everyone who swims in it? Yes, Kaine accepted a position on HC’s team probably knowing all about her foundations etc. Yes, those Dems have abandoned the common man in ways that gave Trump his opportunity; as TMT points out, “My maternal grandfather, lifetime Union member and leader and Democrat would be rolling in his grave to see his party prefer government over prosperity for private sector workers.” But will the GOP prove to treat those workers any better? As Larry points out, “I used to think the GOP was the fiscally conservative guys but now days – they’re WORSE than the Dems when it comes to fiscal behavior.”

    Now we have the local version of the Swamp, our very own General Assembly, stiffing the consumer protections that are supposed to shield us from utility rapaciousness. I remember hearing a chorus of praise here for the integrity of that champion of the moderate Republicans, Mr. Wagner. And I remember hearing a few swipes at Mr. Saslaw, though nothing to intimate his descent to the innermost circles of Dante’s inferno as portrayed by eyewitnesses to his lecturing of Commissioner Jagdeman; how can this man call himself a Democrat?! And it’s shocking — shocking, I tell you! — that Dominion would offer rate reductions to current and future customers without telling them it’s merely a passthrough of benefits from the Republicans’ tax bill (a passthrough they aren’t otherwise required by law to offer); or express a willingness to discuss a resumption of regulated rates just as massive ash relocation costs are on the horizon. Larry says, “it’s downright dumb to give ratepayers a “refund” then later turn around and increase their rates again to pay for the coal ash.” Well yes, but that assumes they admit a refund would otherwise even be due.

    But Steve, even with your update, I still don’t get it. Why does the GA want to play Dominion’s game here, with both parties helping to silence the Commission? What’s in it for the GA? Why not go to the people showing how they made Dominion come clean, rather than engaging in a muddy swamp swim together? And why aren’t the Democrats, at least, rebelling at their Senate leadership on this?

    • re: ” We seem to be widely agreed that Trump is disagreeable and his behavior is counterproductive and probably amoral, but, depending upon one’s perspective, he is accomplishing some things that need doing including shaking up the “elites” and promoting a conventional, if extreme, Republican agenda. ”

      I could care less if he is an idiot blathering nonsense.. it reflects badly on the country and the presidency but we’ve ALWAYs had folks who were less than articulate and never had POTUS that did not goof up in their words.

      It MATTERS when the “talk” leads to real things like deporting people, playing chicken with North Korea on twitter, firing the director of the FBI and contemplating more firings.. impugning the FBI and CIA… pissing off our allies that we do need and embolding our enemies to act against our best interests.

      I could go on but the point here is that those who are saying “it’s just talk” are totally wrong in my view and trying to normalize something that walks and talks like an authoritarian leader and that gets to the “elite” point.

      Who the HELL are the “elites”? I bet if you ask 20 different people you get 20 different answers.. It’s the hallmark of authoritarian dictators to impugn those he disagrees with as “elites” ..i.e. “enemies”… and that includes the free press.

      This is MORE THAN “just talk”. The man MEANS what he is saying.. he is actually going about implementing changes.. like firing people in NOAA who refuse to alter their statements on climate science to name one.

      The GOP following Trumps lead wants to “investigate” govt agencies like the FBI to root out the “deep state” and “elites”.

      Anyone who buys that this is “talk” needs their head examined, in my very opinionated view…

      • Larry, you’ve been watching the Adventures in Modern Fiction channel again (aka CNN).

        People in the country illegally have broken our laws. The remedy is deportation. The President leads the executive branch which is in charge of enforcing the law. Obama had no business legislating through Executive Order. If anything puts America on the path to a totalitarian regime it’s the belief that he President can legislate if he or she doesn’t like what the legislature has done or failed to do.

        North Korea was ignored during the Obama Administration and the President does have responsibility for conducting foreign affairs and securing the national defense. Trump has taken a hard line with North Korea and based on their recent talks with South Korea he may have been quite right to do so. Churchill antagonized Hitler while the archetype for Barack Obama’s foreign affairs policy (Neville Chamberlin) did not. Who was right?

        The FBI has long had a tendency toward corrupt behavior. Hoover kept secret dossiers on politicians and even Civil Rights leaders in order to blackmail them. An FBI agent who worked the Clinton e-mail case and then started working the Trump – Russia investigation was found to have exchanged inflammatory messages with another agent who was also apparently his mistress. Now, the FBI has “lost” five months of text messages from bureau phones during the immediate lead up to the Mueller investigation. Are you kidding me? https://www.yahoo.com/news/more-texts-turned-over-fbi-agent-taken-off-161343170–politics.html

        The CIA has been heavily implicated in leaked SIGINT data presumably to undermine the Trump Administration in its first year.

        If you don’t believe that there are people in and around the government in the US that bastardize our laws and our democracy for their private gain (i.e. elites) then you might as well stop believing in gravity too. The fact that Bill Clinton’s fees for giving speeches jumped when his wive was confirmed as Secretary of State ought to tell you something. The fact that the Koch Brothers started handing out large campaign contributions to the Republican leadership in the immediate aftermath of a tax restructuring which lowered corporate tax rates ought to tell you something.

        I guess none is so blind as he who will not see.

    • “Why does the GA want to play Dominion’s game here, with both parties helping to silence the Commission?”

      Money. Why does Dick Saslaw get huge campaign contributions for each and every election? He hasn’t faced an effective opponent in decades. He easily wins the races. So, why donate precious money to a candidate who will win anyway? Why does he need the money? He doesn’t need the money. He doesn’t spend it on his own elections. He takes the money donated to him and then doles it out it to the politicians of his choice. The politicians who receive Saslaw’s passed down money aren’t slam dunks in the next election. So, they hew the Saslaw line and vote the way he wants or they can forgo the Saslaw money machine. In addition, the politicians who receive the Saslaw largesse and then vote for measures favorable to Dominion don’t necessarily appear to be taking money from Dominion since it was washed through Saslaw. Dominion makes Saslaw the uncrowned king of the Virginia Democratic Party and the king decides who will be among the Dukes, Viscounts and other lesser noblemen of the General Assembly. If the non-kings resist Saslaw they won’t be funded. If Saslaw stops supporting Dominion the money that flows from Dominion to Saslaw will stop and he will no longer be king.

      Forty five states restrict contributions to state office holders. Five states allow anybody to make unlimited contributions. Do I really have to tell you whether Virginia is among the 45 or the 5?

  8. That’s the $1 billion question, and I can only assume the answer is they do not hear from voters (have you written your legislators?) so they follow the old advice and “lean to the green.” I know for a fact that the business community as a class of consumers is clueless and toothless. So far so are the residential consumers. The pipelines stir up passions, but these rate making issues do not. Hence my efforts to communicate here, in newspaper op-eds, and directly with legislators. The one bill I have seen is incredibly complicated, an abomination, and it would take a graduate level seminar to explain it properly. George Orwell would be impressed by the double-speak fed to the politicians by the utilities. They are following the old advice to go with the Big Lie. With this bill the SCC should just go away and do something else, because the utilities will be completely on their own, totally deregulated.

  9. http://bluevirginia.us/2018/01/poll-if-the-department-of-legislative-services-didnt-write-the-dominion-bill-who-did

    Okay this is fun – and instructive as to public attitudes. Without doubt, the bill(s) were drafted by in-house and retained lawyers for the utility. They may have gotten input on drafts from legislators and lobbyists, but they have plenty of legal talent on the payroll. Thank you DLS for making sure that note was on the bill.

  10. The Department of Legislative Services exists for a practical reason and that is writing legislation , especially in Virginia to properly integrate into the arcane Virginia Code is not for the weak of mind and that excludes many including in the GA.

    A clever fella named Waldo Jaquith (same fellow who created Richmond Sunlight) created Virginia Decoded (which is not reachable this morning) but it was heavily caveated because of the convoluted rat’s nest it is.

    So.. WHO would have the ability to actually write a valid, legitimate modification of the Virginia code ? modifications are largely what proposed legislation are – as opposed to brand new virgin legislation / code.

    So I have one more candidate to add – ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council. I might be way off in the ozone but ALEC actually specializes in writing legislation.. and it’s usually done so per the wants and desires of businesses.. and conservatives…

    If you go to the ALEC home page and put “electric” in their search it produces more than 50 model policies to guide writing legislation.

  11. I wonder how recent the practice is of DLS specifically noting that they did not write the legislation. I wonder how recent the practice is that they did not themselves write the legislation and were direct to accept – verbatim – legislation written by others.

    The Va Code is so convoluted.. I would think the number of folks who really understand it and can successfully modify it to actually implement exactly the intent of the bill.. is small and if not in DLS .. perhaps used to be and then went to work for Dominion or ALEC, etc.

    Even then- it seems like every year – there has to be “cleanup” legislation to go back and “tidy up” the code to get it to what was originally intended.

    I’d be curious also to see how this externally-written legislation actually alters the code. Some legislation is surgical while other massively re-write the code.. and sometime in doing that – actually orphan other parts of the code that were linked to what was altered … etc.. etc..

    Take Waldo’s word for it – the Virginia code is a nightmare…

    • Writing legislation is like fixing a car — anybody could do it if the auto makers didn’t build so much of it in deliberately obtuse, non-common-sense ways that require special training and tools and manuals to dare open things up at home.

    • Back in the early 1980s, I was the draftsman for Iowa’s telecom companies when the Legislature made major revisions to the Iowa Code to update the chapter on utility regulation. The changes reflected increasing competition, frustration with long-lasting rate cases, how to handle revenues and costs for unregulated services, and the perceived need to have an office of consumer advocate. The gas and electric utilities were only marginally involved.

      The process involved considerable back and forth between me and my management team, the Iowa Telephone Association and the Iowa Commission’s general counsel. After several drafts, we reached compromise and consensus. At which point, the bill went to a few key legislators and the legislative counsel. I attended a number of meetings with the legislators, both D and R, to ensure they understood the proposal and the consensus reached. Of course, the legislators also contacted the Commission staff.

      Finally, I joined our lobbyists and ITA members at several House and Senate committee hearings where the bill was discussed and advanced. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed by the Governor.

      On the whole, it was a reasonable process, where all the stakeholders worked to come up with a bill with which they could live. I suspect considerable portions of the revised statutes are still in effect.

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