Recovery

Iowa Appeals Co-op Aid Denial

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: December 31st, 2013

State officials in Iowa have joined electric cooperatives in appealing a Federal Emergency Management Agency decision that could leave the co-ops and their members on the hook for millions of dollars in repair costs.

The state of Iowa is appealing FEMA’s denial of disaster funding for utilities that suffered damage during an April ice storm. (Photo By: Sioux Valley Energy)

The state of Iowa is appealing FEMA’s denial of disaster funding for utilities that suffered damage during an April ice storm. (Photo By: Sioux Valley Energy)

Gov. Terry Branstad said that FEMA should reconsider its earlier denial of about $19 million in assistance for damage related to an ice storm that knocked out power to about 10,000 meters in April.

“This funding is important for the recovery of Iowa communities,” Branstad said Dec. 24 in announcing the appeal through the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“Denying such assistance could result in a financial burden for the customers of these cooperatives,” he said.

In August, FEMA denied assistance requests from Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative based in Estherville, Osceola Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Sibley, Rock Rapids-based Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative and Sanborn Electric and Telecommunications Utility.

FEMA officials said the utilities failed to conduct annual comprehensive laboratory testing on each mile of distribution line and post-storm event testing of damaged lines.

NRECA and other industry groups have said the comprehensive testing cited by FEMA officials exceeds any known industry standard or practice. Iowa’s congressional delegation and a coalition of nearly two dozen farm and business groups support the appeal.

“We appreciate the support,” said Marion Denger, president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, calling the formal appeal “a major step in resolving FEMA’s unprecedented denial of disaster assistance.”

FEMA officials have 90 days to evaluate the appeal and issue a determination.

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