Electric Cooperatives are Ready to Work with Elected Officials
As the nation prepares to welcome a new Congress and Administration, America’s electric cooperatives are ready to welcome back old friends and introduce ourselves to newcomers.
The co-ops’ message to elected officials, both old and new, Republican and Democrat, will be the same: we all need to work together to protect consumer access to safe, reliable and affordable electric service.
We have reason to believe this message will be well-received. After all, co-ops speak for more than 42 million electric consumers nationwide, a sizeable constituency by any measure. Moreover, whatever you thought of the 2016 campaign, one message came through loud and clear: many, many people don’t believe their concerns are being heard. For member-owned cooperatives, listening to people is at the heart of our business model. And we carry our members’ concerns to public officials every day.
As co-ops reach out to engage with elected officials, they will build on the strength of Co-ops Vote, the grassroots initiative to reverse declining voter turnout in rural areas.
Co-ops Vote did more than register voters. This initiative sent a strong message to the country’s elected officials that rural electric consumers matter.
And co-ops will be reinforcing this message with a request that policymakers keep the needs of consumers front and center. Needs such as funding for infrastructure––especially transmission lines and access to natural gas. Increasing the efficiency of the electric system. Determining the future of hydropower and nuclear energy. Elected officials will be making decisions affecting every aspect of the electric system.
Advocating for these issues is nothing new. In fact, we’ve been doing it for years. And we’re ready to continue the fight on your behalf.
The time is now to reach out to all elected officials, new and returning.
Here at Southern Rivers Energy we will be reaching out to local, state and federal officials. In initial conversations with newly elected Senator Ben Anderson and Representatives Gene King and Miriam Paris, we will be explaining the unique member-owned, not-for-profit co-op business model. And we will be reminding long-time politicians of our co-op’s commitment to its members.
In Washington, D.C., our national trade association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, will be conducting similar introductions, speaking with key agencies and departments within the new Administration. It is likely many of these new policymakers will know little or nothing of the co-op model.
Forging an energy future that serves rural consumers, and protecting access to safe, reliable and affordable electric power will be a bipartisan effort. Electric co-ops are optimistic. As we work with our elected leaders, we hope to renew a spirit of cooperation in the nation’s Capital and in statehouses across the country.
After all, cooperation is what co-ops do best!