DES MOINES — AARP leaders are taking on MidAmerican Energy false portrayal of the Association’s position on nuclear power and attempts to shift away the focus from what HF 561 really does in their ads. AARP doesn’t oppose nuclear power, but does oppose changing Iowa law to favor utility company and shareholder interests over Iowa’s ratepaying consumers.
“MidAmerican’s ironically titled ‘Straight Talk’ ads misrepresented AARP’s position on HF 561 and hid the truth about what HF 561 actually does”, said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy. “The ads stated that AARP is an opponent of nuclear power. That is an outright lie, just the beginning a new campaign by MidAmerican to fool Iowans into favoring HF 561. Iowans deserve better than to be fooled.”
Carroll explained that AARP has consistently stated in testimony before House and Senate Commerce Committees, in AARP mail and e-mail correspondence with lawmakers, AARP members and Iowans, and in AARP editorials and paid ads, AARP is NOT opposed to nuclear power.
“The question of whether to build a new nuclear power plant is in MidAmerican’s hands,” said Carroll. “It is critical to note, they can build a plant without HF 561. The question for lawmakers is whether to shift nearly all the one-billion to several billions in costs and risks associated with new plants from the company to its customers. That is what AARP opposes. That is what HF 561 does, according to the Iowa Utility Board staff memo. ”
AARP Iowa Executive Council Member Sharon Treinen of Ackley and a shareholder of MidAmerican’s parent company Berkshire Hathaway said, “I take no comfort in knowing HF 561 guarantees a profit for me as shareholder. As a utility customer in Iowa, I oppose HF 561. I’d rather not pay on the front end as a ratepayer, just so I can benefit as a shareholder. I feel very fortunate that my husband and I were able to save so that we have some stock investments, but, I’m even more concerned about the many elderly and other Iowans on fixed incomes.
According to recent reports, Treinen said nearly a quarter million Iowa households, about 224,000, are behind on their utility bills and therefore face potential shut offs as of April 1, the day Iowa’s winter utility shut-off moratorium ends.
State President Tony Vola, also a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder, said HF 561 violates the common sense rule. “I live by the common sense rule. HF 561 shifts the billon-plus costs and profit-making aspects of building a new power plant from the company and shareholders to customers. I choose to spend my money to be a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, but under HF 561, I and other Iowa utility customers would have no choice but to pay advance costs – which have always ballooned in other states – and a profit, for a long, expensive investment, even if this project goes bust.”
“AARP is fighting for a better deal for Iowa utility customers who bear the upfront costs and risk, and MidAmerican is fighting for their shareholders, for the great deal that HF 561 provides to them,” said Carroll. “We hope lawmakers side with customers, not with big business and company shareholders.”