Hoeven Outlines Legislative Accomplishments Supporting ND Rural Electric Cooperatives

Senator Honored to Receive NDAREC Helping Hand Award for Leadership

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven outlined key legislative accomplishments in support of the state’s electric cooperatives today at the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) Annual Meeting. The senator worked to pass water heater legislation, to prevent costly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, and to support infrastructure loans and other Rural Utilities Service (RUS) programs. In recognition of the senator’s leadership, NDAREC leaders honored Hoeven with their Helping Hands award.

“Our electric cooperatives do a great job providing reliable and affordable energy for homes and businesses across North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “Over the last year, we were able to pass important legislation to support their good work and provide greater regulatory certainty for the industry. Congress passed and the president signed into law our water heater legislation, which ensures electric cooperatives can continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters. We also advanced legislation to prevent burdensome regulations like the costly power plant rules and the waters of the U.S. regulation. We’ll continue working to ensure that our rural electric cooperatives have the tools they need to provide their customers with high quality service.”

Hoeven legislative accomplishments include:

Passing Water Heater Efficiency Legislation into Law

  • Hoeven introduced and Congress passed legislation enabling rural electric cooperatives and their members to continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs. The legislation, which was signed into law in April 2015, addressed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plan to phase out these water heaters in 2015. The law allows the continued manufacture of large “grid-enabled” electric water heaters, which play an important role in energy savings programs used by rural cooperatives.

Preventing EPA’s Costly Power Plant Rules

  • In November, Hoeven cosponsored and the Senate passed two resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the EPA’s costly power plan rules for existing plants and new coal generating plants. However, the President vetoed the measures in December.
  • Hoeven organized a meeting with the EPA, state officials, and industry leaders to push back on the EPA and provide the State and industry more time push back on the new rule. The EPA agreed to work with the State and provide more time to address its concerns while we continue to work to repeal the rule.
  • Hoeven continues working with Senator Shelly Moore Capito and a bipartisan group of senators to pass the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, which prevents the EPA’s effort to circumvent Congress and impose new rules on power plants that will drive up costs for consumers and kill good jobs.

Stopping EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Regulation

  • Hoeven included a provision in the Senate Interior-EPA Appropriations bill to prevent funding for implementation of EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule. While this provision was not included in the year-end bill, it did include a provision to prevent the EPA from reinstating the Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule, preserving the general agriculture exemption under the Clean Water Act for farmers and ranchers. Hoeven continues to fight to stop the WOTUS regulation from being implemented through the appropriations process as well as the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, separate legislation that would rescind the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and require the EPA to start the process over with more input from stakeholders.

Supporting the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Agency Grants and Loans

  • As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to support RUS programs, including RUS Electric Loans, which electric cooperatives use to finance electricity generation and distribution, and the RUS Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, which provides competitive grants to improve rural economies by helping entities start or expand rural cooperatives.