Uncertainty in Energy Policy Direction Top's EENR's Agenda

Article excerpt

"Energy policy was the highest-ranked topic identified by the policy committee last March. It is a very timely issue that certain deserves our attention. It is an issue, like the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, which could affect every city in the nation -- in areas as diverse as franchise fees and rights-of-way, to ensuring access to affordable energy for families and businesses in our cities." said EENR Chair Ingrid Lindemann, Councilmember, Aurora, Colorado.

Generation and transmission, stranded costs, muncipalization, aggregation -- these terms represent the lexicon associated with proposals to restructure the electric utility industry. Similar to the recent telecommunications debate, competitiveness in the electric utility is an emerging debate of great importance to all cities. These are the issues the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR) Steering Committee began to tackle in order to develop a comprehensive policy for all cities on this key, emerging issue.

Electric Utilities

To begin addressing electric utility restructuring, the committee convened a panel with representatives from public and investor-owned utilities. Lash Chaflin, Utilities Coordinating Manager for the League of Nebraska Municipalities, moderated a panel with Gary Lay of the Nebraska Municipal Power Pool and Fred Trueblood of Southern California Edison. The panelists offered their perspectives of how the restructured environment for electricity production and distribution will affect investor-owned and public power utilities.

More importantly, the Committee asked the panelists to anticipate the impact of deregulation on cities and on citizens. The discussion represented a continuation of the lively debate currently underway across the country of whether a deregulated electricity utility industry will be beneficial, and, if so, for whom.

Proposed changes in this field will affect local revenues and local budgets. NLC members include those cities that operate utilities and those that are primarily customers. For all cities, the residents will turn to local officials with questions about rates and levels of services delivery. At their fall meeting, the Committee will consider guiding principles to express the concerns city officials in this area.

In addition to the electric utility issues, the EENR Policy Committee identified the energy policy in general as an area that required review this year. Breaking into two small groups, the Committee examined existing policy language to determine whether and if new policy language is needed.

Airport Noise

Another issue of concern is the level of airport noise experienced by communities in the vicinity of airports. Technological innovations have reduced the noise generated by aircraft engines. The federal government is implementing a plan to replace existing fleets with quieter aircraft. A growing area of concern is the changing nature of how airports are sited and local land use issues.

For example, in some instances the airfields at closed military bases are being converted to civilian use as a reliever airport. …