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Important Legislative Update:The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWECPO) has drafted HB 1895 which would make it much easier for utilities to get power plants approved under the radar, hurt ratepayers and cut the public out of the commenting process. The bill can be found at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2011/2011R/Pages/BillInformation.aspx?measureno=HB1895
This bill is bad on several levels:
1) HB 1895, written by the utility Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), would change the utility law that is the subject of pending litigation in suits where SWEPCO is a party. Changing the law right before a judge makes a ruling is not a tactic of which I want my legislature to be a part.
2) This bill would create a “declaration of need” proceeding to determine whether there should be more electricity production in Arkansas, but not create public notice requirements for the proceeding. If a government agency is conducting a decision making process that could later on affect my utility rates, I want to make sure that I’m given the opportunity to be a part of that discussion. And I won’t know how to attend if the law doesn’t require me to be notified.
3) HB 1895 would tip the scales to the utilities so that they can pressure government to raise electric rates even more. The bill would create a separate “declaration of need” proceeding where a determination for the need of increased electric capacity would provide the basis for utilities to recover new costs through increased rates. We, the ratepayers, would be stuck with higher bills. Unfortunately, it has already passed the Arkansas House. It is possible that this bill will wind up on the Senate floor, and we need concerned citizens to call their senators now and urge them to vote NO on HB 1895. In order to find your own senator, visit: http://www.arkansas.gov/senate/senatorSearch.html
For more information about the bill, please contact: Lev Guter Associate Field Organizer Sierra Club - Arkansas firstname.lastname@example.org (941) 779-3337