FEMA Disaster Relief Withheld from Electric Cooperatives
Electric cooperatives in Iowa were surprised by FEMA’s rejection of disaster aid, according to this article. The utilities sought approximately $20 million in funds to replace electric facilities damaged by recent storms. Their request was denied.
According to FEMA, the funds were denied because the utilities didn’t adequately test their electrical systems. Presumably, the utilities were referring to FEMA’s pre-disaster documentation requirements. The utilities claim the testing requirement is a drastic change in FEMA policy, while FEMA officials claim the requirement has been in effect since September 2009.
Obviously, FEMA funding is a critical issue for utility cooperatives. Without FEMA aid, electric cooperatives must fund the repair and reconstruction of utility systems through increase in rates for their members. This especially hurts members in rural areas.