Political Notebook

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Donnelly bill seeks equal standard for power utilities

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., announced Wednesday that he and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., have introduced legislation that would hold public and private utility companies to the same regulatory standard for fuel purchases.

Their bill, the Public Power Risk Management Act, would let public power companies buy up to $8 billion in energy for future use before the seller has to register as a “swap dealer” with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Entities selling to public utilities currently must register if they enter into swaps of at least $25 million swap, while the threshold for private utilities is $8 billion. Donnelly’s office said registration requires sellers “to follow stricter business conduct standards and take on higher costs,” making it harder for public utilities to arrange such deals.

The registration requirements are part of the Dodd-Frank Act that regulates the financial services industry.

The House approved identical legislation by a 423-0 vote this year. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is among four co-sponsors of the Senate version.

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