APPA approves new policy resolutions on coal delivery, drones and solar deployment

The American Public Power Association (APPA) approved new policy resolutions to protect utilities that receive coal by rail, address the use of drones in utility-related operations, and support affordable and reliable solar power deployment.

Six resolutions were approved by APPA’s Legislative & Resolutions Committee at the APPA 2015 Legislative Rally.

Coal Transportation Costs: Thirty nine percent of the nation’s electricity is generated from coal, most of which is transported by rail. Many coal-burning electric utilities receive coal shipments from a single carrier. Transportation costs are often unreasonably high and utilities are unable to negotiate transportation terms in an open and competitive market. APPA calls on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Surface Transportation Board, and Congress to fully examine service-related coal shortages at public power utilities.

Drones: Electric utilities can use unmanned aerial aircraft, or drones to survey electric power equipment, assess damage, and help with construction and repair. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal aviation rules have failed to keep pace with this new technology. Government-operated (public) aircraft must comply with federal airspace and air-traffic rules, but generally are exempt from civil airworthiness and airman certification requirements, making their use easier. However, drones are often unable to meet certain airspace rules that — for example — apply solely to piloted vehicles. APPA contends that FAA regulations and federal aviation laws should facilitate, not impede, the responsible use of drones by public power utilities.

Solar Power:  As of October 2014, 6.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity has been installed in the U.S., and is expected to increase by approximately 9 GW by 2016, and by 20 GW by 2020. APPA believes that decisions about solar power generation and deployment should be made at the local or state level, with a transparent discussion of the costs and benefits compared to other generation sources. Community solar projects can often provide a more affordable and reliable option than rooftop solar. APPA will continue to educate federal policy makers about the impact of federal regulations and incentives on local decisions about solar power generation, and discourage federal mandates or one-size-fits-all proposals.

All six approved resolutions are listed below and available at

Resolution 15-01: In support of legislative and regulatory reforms to protect utilities that receive coal by rail

Resolution 15-02: In support of public power utilities’ use of unmanned aerial aircraft in utility-related operations

Resolution 15-03: In support of the right of preference customers to be protected from the costs of transmission projects in the Western Area Power Administration and the Southwestern Area Power Administration

Resolution 15-04: In support of equitable treatment of public power utilities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

Resolution 15-05: Support for legislation to address flaws in EPA’s Final Rule to regulate coal combustion residuals

Resolution 15-06: In support of affordable, reliable solar power deployment

More than 600 locally elected and appointed officials, legislative experts, and APPA members are attending the APPA Legislative Rally, March 9-11, to meet with their members of Congress and Administration officials and discuss issues critical to the future of public power.