Hoeven Outlines Work to Support Electric Cooperatives, Advance Comprehensive Energy Plan

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Energy and Appropriations committees, spoke today at Minnkota Power Cooperative’s annual meeting. The senator outlined his work to prevent burdensome federal regulations, offer strong support to rural communities and advocate for rural electric utilities. The senator also thanked Minnkota Power and the entire Rural Electric Cooperative family for all they do to help rural America thrive.

“Minnkota provides efficient, reliable power for North Dakota’s communities, which is important for our families, businesses and overall economy,” Hoeven said. “I have been working hard at the federal level to prevent burdensome regulations like the EPA’s costly power plant rules and Waters of the U.S. regulation, which would drive up costs for consumers and hurt jobs. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives do a great job powering our homes and businesses, and we’ll continue to support the good work they do to keep rural America strong.”

Hoeven legislative accomplishments include: 

Preventing EPA’s Costly Power Plant Rules

  • In November, Hoeven cosponsored and the Senate passed two joint 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, which President Obama subsequently vetoed.
  • Hoeven organized a meeting with the EPA, state officials and industry leaders to press the EPA to provide the state and industry more time to push back on the new rule. The EPA agreed to work with the state and provide more time to address its concerns. The senator continues working to repeal the rule. 
  • Hoeven is working with a bipartisan group of senators to push for passage of 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 (WOTUS)

  • Hoeven included a provision in the Senate Interior-EPA Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 to prevent funding to implement the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule.
    • Hoeven continues to fight to stop the WOTUS regulation from being implemented through the appropriations process. Additionally, Hoeven is a cosponsor of 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)

  • In 2015, Congress passed Hoeven’s Water Heater Efficiency legislation enabling rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs. The DOE had planned to phase them out by April 2015. Hoeven’s bill saves consumers money, optimizes rural electric coops’ energy management and benefits the environment.
  • Hoeven is working to pass the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act, which provides strong state oversight for storage and management of coal residuals, while enabling industry to safely recycle it into useful, less-expensive construction materials.
  • 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, as well as the RUS Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, which provides competitive grants to improve rural economies by helping entities start or expand rural cooperatives.
  • Hoeven is continuing to work on appropriations to support companies like Minnkota though the research and development of Carbon Capture and Storage. He pressed for support in the FY 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations process for new competitive awards for large-scale demonstration projects that incorporate “post combustion system” technology, which captures CO2 and stores that CO2 deep in the earth or utilizes it for beneficial uses like enhanced oil recovery. 
  • The senator is working to support the EERC in Grand Forks to advance post-combustion CO2 capture technology specifically for ND lignite and similar kinds of coal, which will assist Minnkota to bring this technology to commercialization.
  • Hoeven is also working through the appropriations process to support the U.S. Energy Department’s ongoing fossil energy research and development, including the Advanced Coal Energy Systems, Unconventional Fossil Energy, and Natural Gas Technologies programs.

Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc. is a regional generation and transmission cooperative that serves 11 member-owned distribution cooperatives. It has some of the most competitive electrical rates in the nation and has a service area of 34,500 square miles.