Affordable electricity our goal in 2010
It may be a new year, but the goal at all of Missouri’s electric cooperatives will remain the same in 2010: to keep electricity affordable and reliable for our members. For every employee who works for a Missouri electric cooperative, that thought will be the foundation for all they do in the coming year.
Across the state, electric co-ops are focusing on ways members can use electricity more efficiently. Through energy audits, rebates for energy efficient appliances or simply information on how to lead an energy-efficient lifestyle, electric cooperatives are working hard to help members through these trying times. As a result, even though rates may have increased, many members are seeing their monthly bills reduced.
If you haven’t yet checked with your electric cooperative about its programs to save energy, give them a call or go by the office and ask what is available to help you save.
In Jefferson City, the state legislature will go back to work this month considering hundreds of bills. If this year is like others, the legislative session will require our constant vigilance on your behalf because any of these bills could have a major impact on your electric bill, intentionally or not. Our state legislators want to work with us on these issues because they know the cooperative way of business means we put your interests first and share their goal of putting people first.
One issue we will certainly be following involves a Department of Revenue interpretation of a Missouri Supreme Court court case that could lead to the state forcing your electric cooperative to pay sales taxes on electricity sold to previously tax-exempt organizations. One early estimate shows this issue alone could cost electric co-ops 20 percent of their normal margins, which is the money that is returned to you in the form of capital credits. We are already working with other business groups, legislators and statewide elected officials to assess the impacts of the decision and recommend legislative changes, if needed, to make sure the sales taxes don’t impact Missouri consumers.
On the national legislative front, we will continue to focus on the climate change debate. This issue has the potential to cause the most damage to your wallets.
A lot of effort has been put into this debate in the two years it has been on the front burner in Congress. And the goal behind this monumental effort has been the same as for the other issues — to protect the price you pay for electricity and to ensure you have the reliable electric service you demand on a monthly basis at your home or business.
Closer to home, representatives from all of Missouri’s electric cooperatives recently took part in a long but important meeting with officials from FEMA, the federal agency charged with helping communities recover from natural disasters. This meeting helped your cooperative’s leaders understand the new procedures they must follow to be eligible for FEMA funding should another devastating storm hit our state.
This wasn’t the only meeting we’ve hosted on this topic. Any time there is a disaster we wait for the crisis to be over, then gather all of those involved to search for ways to improve our response with a goal of getting the power back on as efficiently and economically as possible.
I’ll leave you with one other thought on this topic. Pay close attention to the Guest Column on this page. It explains why it’s so important for all Missourians to fill out the census forms when they arrive in early 2010. If Missouri’s population goes down because large numbers of people are not counted, we stand to lose representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. If Missouri loses a congressional seat, another state that may not share our views will pick up the seat. And that will make it more difficult as we work to keep electricity affordable and reliable for all Missouri electric cooperative members.
We will do our best to continue to communicate to you these and other important issues in the 2010 editions of Rural Missouri and communications from your local electric co-op.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.