MREA delegation talks reliability and affordability to legislators
In late September, MREA staff led a delegation to Washington D.C. to visit with senators and representatives. The Minnesota group, made up of board members, CEOs and other co-op staff, joined delegates from South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin in the capital city to meet with legislators and talk about issues important to electric cooperatives. Minnesota cooperatives represent the reliability needs of more than 1.7 million people who depend on electric cooperatives to provide electricity for their homes and businesses.
The group met with representatives Finstad, Fishbach and Stauber and Senator Klobuchar and staff from Rep. Craig and Emmer’s offices and Senator Smith’s office. Representative Finstad took the group on a private tour of the Capitol building in the evening. During the tour, they had the opportunity to talk with the Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who came into his office to find it full of Minnesota co-op people. He spoke highly of the work electric cooperatives do for Minnesotans. Finstad and Emmer talked about life on the Hill, their political history, along with much good-natured ribbing toward each other.
The group had five primary points to cover with each legislator:
Permitting reform — Recent changes have been beneficial, but more must be done to advance electric infrastructure projects in a timely manner.
Supply chain issues — More needs to be done to streamline supply chains and the Department of Energy’s proposed transformer efficiency rule will make matters worse if enacted.
The Farm Bill — Pass this bill as soon as possible and protect the New ERA program, which keeps rural communities thriving and helps electric co-ops provide reliable, affordable electricity.
EPA regulations — The new EPA proposed power plant rule will force the premature closure of needed resources or force utilities to use unproven and expensive technology to keep plants operating. Congress should exercise its oversight authority and make sure the agency is crafting rules that don’t jeopardize reliability.
Broadband — Support broadband investments, including the ReConnect program, and make sure that any legislation supports fast up and down speeds that are needed for reliable and sustainable connections.
“Visiting Washington D.C. is an investment in our political future,” Justin Jahnz, CEO of East Central Energy, said. “Through these visits, we build relationships with legislators over time and help them understand our issues. We hope that more co-ops will send their board and staff on future visits. The relationships built and messages communicated really pay dividends over the long term.”
A big thank you to all those who went on the legislative trips this year. MREA leads trip to Washington D.C. three times a year and encourages co-ops to consider sending their board or staff members on the next trip which will be held in January. Also, if you have not signed up for Voices for Cooperative Power, please consider doing so, and communicate this opportunity with your employees, board members and members. Those who sign up will be notified when there is an important issue that NRECA is asking for involvement on. They make communicating with representatives and senators fast and easy. Here’s a link. (https://voicesforcooperativepower.com)